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Friend of the Devil: An Inspector Banks Novel    by Peter Robinson order for
Friend of the Devil
by Peter Robinson
Order:  USA  Can
William Morrow, 2008 (2007)
Hardcover, Audio, e-Book

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* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Friend of the Devil is the latest in Peter Robinson's excellent and long-running British police procedural series starring DCI Alan Banks. The story alternates between two cases, one investigated by Banks and the other by his close colleague (and once lover) DI Annie Cabbot, recently seconded to the Eastern Area force.

As the story opens, Annie awakens from a reckless one night stand with a much younger man, shocked and baffled by her own actions. Annie's subsequent investigation into the death of quadriplegic Karen Drew - found on a cliff edge looking over the North Sea - is interspersed with her attempts to deal with the personal crisis that led to this - and further - reckless behavior. Annie doesn't have to wonder for long why someone would murder a woman in a wheelchair, as she finds links to a horrific past serial killer case. She worries that the murderer slit the quadriplegic's throat instead of simply pushing her into the sea, as 'killers who wanted to make statements were like bores at a party: a bugger to shut up until they'd finished what they had to say.' What follows proves her right.

While Annie deals as best she can with personal and professional crises, her ex-lover Alan Banks - working with crass, corner-cutting DS Kevin Templeton and young, smart DS Winsome Jackman - is faced with the murder of a lovely but brash student, Hayley Daniels, close to home in Eastvale. Out pub crawling with friends, Hayley was brutally raped and strangled in the Maze, a warren of yards and alleys behind the town's market square, with an entrance close by the police station. It's almost a locked room murder as closed-circuit cameras that cover the Maze's entrances show no-one following the young woman in there in the relevant time frame.

It's hard to imagine how these cases could be connected, but Robinson slowly and steadily develops his story to build a credible link between them, with an unusual motivation for multiple murders and a big surprise in the main perpetrator's identity. Though I haven't read much in this series in the past - and admit to finding Alan Banks a rather bland lead - I enjoyed this episode. Peter Robinson masterfully moves his detectives, through the maze of his mystery, and the turmoil in their personal lives, to a cathartic ending. Friend of the Devil is a must read for series fans and for anyone who enjoys an intelligent, well-written procedural.

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