A Dedicated Man (Inspector Alan Banks Series #2)by Peter Robinson
A dedicated man is dead in the Yorkshire dales -- a former university professor, wealthy historian and archaeologist who loved his adopted village. It is a particularly heinous slaying, considering the esteem in which the victim, Harry Steadman, was held by his neighbors and colleagues -- by everyone, it seems, except the one person who bludgeoned the life out of the… See more details below
A dedicated man is dead in the Yorkshire dales -- a former university professor, wealthy historian and archaeologist who loved his adopted village. It is a particularly heinous slaying, considering the esteem in which the victim, Harry Steadman, was held by his neighbors and colleagues -- by everyone, it seems, except the one person who bludgeoned the life out of the respected scholar and left him half-buried in a farmer's field.
Detective Chief Inspector Alan Banks left the violence of London behind for what he hoped would be the peaceful life of a country policeman. But the brutality of Steadman's murder only reinforces one ugly, indisputable truth: that evil can flourish in even the most bucolic of settings. There are dangerous secrets hidden in the history of this remote Yorkshire community that have already led to one death. And Banks will have to plumb a dark and shocking local past to find his way to a killer before yesterday's sins cause more blood to be shed.
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When the sun rose high enough to clear the slate roofs on the other side of the street, it crept through a chink in Sally Lumb's curtains and lit on a strand of gold-blonde hair that curled over her cheek. She was dreaming. Minotaurs, bank clerks, gazelles and trolls cavorted through the barns, maisonettes, and gothic palaces of her sleep. But, when she awoke a few hours later, all she was left with was the disturbing image of a cat picking its way along a high wall topped with broken glass. Dreams. Most of them she ignored. They had nothing to do with the other kind of dreams, the most important ones that she didn't have to fall asleep to find. In these dreams, she passed her exams and was accepted into the Marion Boyars Academy of Theater Arts. There she studied acting, modeling and cosmetic technique, for Sally was realistic enough to know that if she lacked the dramatic talent of a Kate Winslet or a Gwyneth Paltrow, she could at least belong to the fringes of the world of glamor.
When Sally finally stirred, the bar of sunlight had shifted to the floor beside her bed, striping the untidy pile of clothes she had dropped there the night before. She could hear plates and cutlery clatter in the kitchen downstairs, and the rich smell of roast beef wafted up to her room. She got up. It was good policy, she thought, to get downstairs as soon as possible and help with the vegetables before her mother's call -- "It's on the table!" -- came grating up to her. At least by showing a willingness to help, she could probably avoid too probing an investigation into her lateness lastnight.
Sally stared at herself in the full-length mirror of her old oak wardrobe. Even if there was still a little puppy fat around her hips and thighs, it would soon go away. On the whole, she decided, she had a good body. Her breasts were perfect. Most people, of course, complimented her on her long silky hair, but they hadn't seen her breasts. Kevin had. Just last night he had caressed them and told her they were perfect. Last night they had gone almost all the way, and Sally knew that the next time, soon, they would. She looked forward to it with a mixture of fear and desire that, according to what she had read in magazines, and books, would soon fuse into ecstasy in the heat of passion and longing.
Sally touched her nipple with the tip of her forefinger and felt a tingle in her loins. The nipple hardened and she moved away from the mirror to get dressed, her face burning.
Kevin was good. He knew how to excite her; ever since summer began he had played carefully with the boundaries of her desire. He had pushed them back a little further each time, and soon the whole country would be his. He was young, like Sally, but still he seemed to know instinctively how to please her, just as she imagined an experienced older man would know. She even thought she loved Kevin a bit. But if someone else came along -- somebody more mature, more wealthy, more sophisticated, someone who was at home in the exciting, fast-paced cities of the world -- well, after all, Kevin was only a farm boy at heart.
Dressed in designer jeans and a plain white T-shirt, Sally drew back the curtains. When her eyes had adjusted to the glare, she looked out on a perfect Swainsdale morning. A few fluffy little clouds -- one like a teddy bear, another like a crab -- scudded across the piercing blue sky on a light breeze. She looked north up the broad slope of the valley side, its rich greens interrupted here and there by dark patches of heather and outcrops of limestone, to the long sheer wall of Crow Scar, and noticed something very odd. At first she couldn't make it out at all. Then she squinted, refocused and saw, spread out along the slope just above the old road, five or six blue dots that seemed to be moving in some kind of pattern. She put a finger to her lips, thought for a moment, and frowned.
Fifteen miles away in Eastvale, the dale's largest town, somebody else was anticipating a Sunday dinner of succulent roast beef and Yorkshire pudding. Detective Chief Inspector Alan Banks lay flat on his stomach in Brian's room watching an electric train whizz around bends, over bridges, through signals and under papier-mâcé mountains. Brian himself was out riding his bike in the local park, but Banks had long since given up the pretense that he only played with the trains for his son's sake and finally admitted that he found the pastime even more relaxing than a hot bath.
He heard the phone ring out in the hall, and a few seconds later his daughter, Tracy, shouted through, "It's for you, Dad!"
As Banks rushed downstairs, the aroma from the kitchen made his mouth water. He thanked Tracy and picked up the receiver. It was Sergeant Rowe, desk-officer at Eastvale Regional Headquarters.
"Sorry to bother you, sir," Rowe began, "but we've just had a call from Constable Weaver over in Helmthorpe. Seems a local farmer's found a body in one of his fields this morning."
"Go on," Banks urged, snapping into professional gear.
"Chap said he was looking for a stray sheep, sir, when he found this body buried by a wall. Weaver says he shifted one or two stones and it's a dead 'un all right. Looks like someone bashed 'is 'ead in."
Banks felt the tightening in his stomach that always accompanied news of murder. He had transferred from London a year ago, sickened by the spiraling of senseless violence there, only to...A Dedicated Man. Copyright © by Peter Robinson. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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