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Strange Affair    by Peter Robinson order for
Strange Affair
by Peter Robinson
Order:  USA  Can
William Morrow, 2005 (2005)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book

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* * *   Reviewed by G. Hall

Happily for mystery readers, Peter Robinson's series about Yorskhire detective Alan Banks continues to enthrall and entertain in this 15th mystery, well past the point when most series run out of steam. As in all the best series, Robinson's characters evolve and change as they face new situations and crises. So readers eagerly return periodically to find out how their lives are going, just as we do with good friends in real life. Robinson has wisely developed new characters as the book progresses including that of Detective Inspector Annie Cabbot, with whom Banks has shared a troubled past romance.

In this latest book, Strange Affair, Banks is on leave due to the traumatic events of Playing with Fire, in which he was injured and his house torched by a serial killer, destroying all his possessions. Now, a late night phone call from his very frightened, estranged brother plucks him from his depression and takes him to London to track Roy down. Banks must handle his search carefully so as not to cause problems for his brother, who has not always conducted his business affairs on the right side of the law. Meanwhile, Annie is looking into the death of a young woman found shot in her car in Yorkshire, while carrying a slip with Banks' name and address in her pocket. The two mysteries turn out to be linked in a complex but clearly plotted web, involving people smuggling from eastern Europe. It is a pleasure to watch Banks and Annie use forensic skills - but more importantly their brains - to untangle the strands and solve the mystery.

As in past episodes, Banks continues to struggle with finding his place in life, having failed in his marriage and in several romantic relationships. Now, his beloved cottage destroyed, he feels totally without moorings. Banks realizes 'everyone gets tainted by a murder investigation', and they have left their mark on him over the years, often causing problems in his personal life. Annie also doubts herself, having been involved with the serial killer in Playing with Fire. As she and Banks work to solve this mystery, their troubled relationship begins to thaw, but there are no easy or pat endings in a Robinson book, and we will need to wait for the next episode to see what transpires.

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