Friend of the Devil (Inspector Alan Banks Series #17)

( 13 )

Overview

Two murders . . . two towns . . . two determined cops . . .

One morning in March, on the edge of a cliff overlooking the sea, a woman named Karen Drew is found in her wheelchair with her throat slit. Back in Eastvale on that same morning, in a tangle of narrow alleys behind a market square, the body of Hayley Daniels is found raped and strangled.

On loan to a sister precinct, Detective Inspector Annie Cabbot draws the first case, but she turns ...

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Friend of the Devil (Inspector Alan Banks Series #17)

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Overview

Two murders . . . two towns . . . two determined cops . . .

One morning in March, on the edge of a cliff overlooking the sea, a woman named Karen Drew is found in her wheelchair with her throat slit. Back in Eastvale on that same morning, in a tangle of narrow alleys behind a market square, the body of Hayley Daniels is found raped and strangled.

On loan to a sister precinct, Detective Inspector Annie Cabbot draws the first case, but she turns up nothing in Karen Drew's past that might have prompted someone to kill her. Meanwhile, in the Hayley Daniels murder, Chief Inspector Alan Banks has suspects galore.

Then a breakthrough spins Annie's case in a shocking and surprising new direction, straight toward Banks. Together they must search for two killers who could strike again at any moment, with bloody fury.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Corpses may pile up in Robinson's thrillers about Yorkshire Chief Insp. Alan Banks and his now former lover, Det. Insp. Annie Cabbot, but rock and roll will never die. In Robinson's 17th novel, named for a Grateful Dead song, Banks frequently departs from his sleuthing to listen to enough rock anthems that it seems odd for an audio version to limit its music to just a few seconds of ominous introductory notes. Prebble's pitch-perfect rendition clarifies a complex tale of two serial murders that harks back to an earlier Banks-Cabbot investigation. His narration remains on cue and unruffled even when describing a paraplegic's severed neck (victim number one), the brutalized corpse of a beautiful young girl (victim number two) or Annie Cabbot's sad fall from grace at the end of a very boozy evening. Robinson's yarn comprises intriguing police procedure and the even more intriguing personal and professional relationships of his investigators. It's an engaging medley, and Prebble's vocal expertise makes it sing. Simultaneous release with the Morrow hardcover (Reviews, Oct. 8). (Mar.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Library Journal

A teenage girl is found dead in a warehouse, and the same morning, another body turns up: this time, it's a quadriplegic, murdered in her wheelchair. Numerous possible suspects in one killing and a lack of logical motives in the other make these crimes difficult to investigate. Only the insightful Det. Chief Insp. Alan Banks and his sidekick, Annie Cabbot, could manage to dig up the clues they need to track down the killer. At the same time, the two continue to navigate their messy personal lives that make them real and likable and question themselves as to whether they belong together romantically. In this latest installment in the Inspector Banks series (after Piece of My Heart), best-selling author Robinson once again engages readers with the thoughtful characterizations that make his novels unique. The plot isn't as original as what readers encounter in Robinson's other mysteries, but his talent for twists and turns makes it enjoyable nonetheless. Highly recommended. [See Prepub Alert, LJ9/15/07.]
—Linda Oliver

Kirkus Reviews
A pair of Mother's Day homicides seem equally sinister-until one of them takes DCI Alan Banks and his squad (Piece of My Heart, 2006, etc.) back to an even more horrifying series of past crimes. The body of Eastvale College student Hayley Daniels, raped and strangled, is found in the Maze, a warren of alleys where the girl went to relieve herself after the loo at her local pub, The Fountain, got trashed. Miles away, a dog-walker comes upon quadriplegic Karen Drew, savagely slashed to death in her wheelchair on a seaside cliff that a simple push would have sent tumbling over. The first investigation falls to Banks's Western Area Major Crimes Squad, the second to the Eastern Area Squad, where Banks's ex-lover Annie Cabbot has been seconded. Despite the distracting pugnacity of both squads, Annie soon realizes that "Karen Drew" is actually the wife of Terence Payne, who was killed 20 years ago after butchering five teenaged girls and one of the officers who came after him. Who could have pierced Lucy Payne's disguise, and why would anyone end such a minimal life after so many years? And who'll work through the endless list of suspects first, Eastern or Western?As usual with Robinson, the characters are beautifully drawn, the frequent conflicts sharply etched and the soundtrack of pop tunes ubiquitous. The resolution to both cases seems almost beside the point. Agent: Dominick Abel/Dominick Abel Literary Agency
From the Publisher
“Peter Robinson is a writer I know I can trust…. Without writers like him I couldn’t do an eighteen-month-long tour.”
— Pete Townshend, The Who

“Robinson has kept up an astonishingly high standard . . . make no mistake, he’s among the very best.”
The Times (U.K.)

“If Elmore Leonard is the ‘Dickens of Detroit,’ as the mystery world has long proclaimed, then Peter Robinson is, undeniably, the ‘Tennyson of Toronto.’ Who else but this Canadian crime writer can, like a literary shaman, pull tragedy from a bag and transform it into a good thing — with haunting, remarkable murder stories as complex as they are redemptive, as profound as poetic?”
Ottawa Citizen

“A fine series . . . a first-rate writer.”
Washington Post Book World

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060544386
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 12/30/2008
  • Series: Inspector Alan Banks Series , #17
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 432
  • Sales rank: 297,308
  • Product dimensions: 4.10 (w) x 6.70 (h) x 1.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Peter Robinson's award-winning Inspector Banks novels have been named a "Best Book of the Year" by Publishers Weekly, a "Notable Book" by the New York Times, and a "Page Turner of the Week" by People. Robinson was born and brought up in Yorkshire, and now divides his time between North America and the U.K.

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Read an Excerpt

Sunday mornings were hardly sacrosanct to Detective Chief Inspector Alan Banks. After all, he ­didn’t go to church, and he rarely awoke with such a bad hangover that it was painful to move or speak. In fact, the previous evening he had watched The Black Dahlia on DVD and had drunk two glasses of Tesco’s finest Chilean Cabernet with his reheated pizza funghi. But he did appreciate a lie-­in and an hour or two’s peace with the newspapers as much as the next man. For the afternoon, he planned to phone his mother and wish her a happy Mother’s Day, then listen to some of the Shostakovich string quartets he had recently purchased from iTunes and carry on reading Tony Judt’s Postwar. He found that he read far less fiction these days; he felt a new hunger to understand, from a different perspective, the world in which he had grown up. Novels were all well and good for giving you a flavour of the times, but he needed facts and interpretations, the big picture.

That Sunday, the third in March, such luxury was not to be. It started innocently enough, as such momentous sequences of events often do, at about half past eight, with a phone call from Detective Sergeant Kevin Templeton, who was on duty in the Western Area Major Crimes squad room that weekend.

“Guv, it’s me. DS Templeton.”

Banks felt a twinge of distaste. He ­didn’t like Templeton, would be happy when his transfer finally came through. There were times when he tried to tell himself it was because Templeton was too much like him, but that ­wasn’t the case. Templeton ­didn’t only cut corners, he trampled on far too many people’s feelings and, worse, he seemed to enjoy it. “What is it?” Banks grunted. “It had better be good.”

“It’s good, sir. You’ll like it.”

Banks could hear traces of obsequious excitement in Templeton’s voice. Since their last run-­in, the young DS had tried to ingratiate himself in various ways, but this kind of phony breathless deference was too Uriah Heep for Banks’s liking.

“Why ­don’t you just tell me?” said Banks. “Do I need to get dressed?” He held the phone away from his ear as Templeton laughed.

“I think you should get dressed, sir, and make your way down to Taylor’s Yard as soon as you can.”

Taylor’s Yard, Banks knew, was one of the narrow passages that led into the Maze, which riddled the south side of the town centre behind Eastvale’s market square. It was called a yard not because it resembled a square or a garden in any way, but because some bright spark had once remarked that it ­wasn’t much more than a yard wide. “And what will I find there?” he asked.

“Body of a young woman,” said Templeton. “I’ve checked it out myself. In fact, I’m there now.”

“You ­didn’t —”

“I ­didn’t touch anything, sir. And between us, Police Constable Forsythe and me have got the area taped off and sent for the doctor.”

“Good,” said Banks, pushing aside the Sunday Times crossword he had hardly started and looking longingly at his still-­steaming cup of black coffee. “Have you called the super?”

“Not yet, sir. I thought I’d wait till you’d had a butcher’s. No sense in jumping the gun.”

“All right,” said Banks. Detective Superintendent Catherine Gervaise was probably enjoying a lie-­in after a late night out to see Orfeo at Opera North in Leeds. Banks had seen it on Thursday with his daughter, Tracy, and enjoyed it very much. He ­wasn’t sure whether Tracy had. She seemed to have turned in on herself these days. “I’ll be there in half an hour,” he said. “Three-­quarters at the most. Ring DI Cabbot and DS Hatchley. And get DC Jackman there, too.”

“DI Cabbot’s still on loan to Eastern, sir.”

“Of course. Damn.” If this was a murder, Banks would have liked Annie’s help. They might have problems on a personal level, but they still worked well as a team.

Banks went upstairs and showered and dressed quickly, then back in the kitchen he filled his travel mug with coffee to drink on the way, making sure the top was pressed down tight. More than once he’d had a nasty accident with a coffee mug. He turned everything off, locked up and headed for the car.

He was driving his brother’s Porsche. Though he still ­didn’t feel especially comfortable in such a luxury vehicle, he was finding that he liked it better each day. Not so long ago, he had thought of giving it to his son, Brian, or to Tracy, and that idea still held some appeal. The problem was that he ­didn’t want to make one of them feel left out, or less loved, so the choice was proving to be a dilemma. Brian’s band had gone through a slight change of personnel recently, and he was rehearsing with some new musicians. Tracy’s exam results had been a dis­appointment to her, though not to Banks, and she was passing her time rather miserably working in a bookshop in Leeds and sharing a house in Headingley with some old student friends. So who deserved a Porsche? He could hardly cut it in half.

It had turned windy and cool, so Banks went back to switch his sports jacket for his zip-­up leather jacket. If he was going to be standing around in the back alleys of Eastvale while the SOCOs, the photographer and the police surgeon did their stuff, he might as well stay as warm as possible. Once snug in the car, he started the engine and set off through Gratly, down the hill to Helmthorpe and on to the Eastvale Road. He plugged his iPod into the adapter, on shuffle, and Ray Davies’s “All She Wrote” came on, a song he particularly liked, especially the line about the big Australian barmaid. That would do for a Sunday-­morning drive to a crime scene, he thought; it would do just fine.

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Reading Group Guide

1. Peter Robinson uses his mystery novels to explore important concepts and social issues. In Friend of the Devil, justice and revenge are explored in depth, particularly with regard to the murder of the woman in the wheelchair. How do you feel about that murder? How does your point of view differ from Alan Banks’ feelings about her and those of Annie Cabbot?

2. Annie believes that Banks had a very complicated relationship with the wheelchair murder victim, that Banks understood her. Do you think that is true, and why? Could Annie herself be accused of the same kind of complex relationship by the end of the novel?

3. Kevin Templeton is an interesting character in the series; reviled by many, he is accorded grudging respect by some for his intuitive grasp of criminal cases. Discuss the pivotal role he plays in this novel. Will what happened to him change the way he is regarded, and if so, how? Would he have eventually made a good police officer as Banks insists? Will he be missed?

4. Cracks are appearing in the morale of Banks’s police unit, in part because of the moral and ethical judgments the members make about each other. Discuss the issues that are threatening the group’s solidarity. In particular, do you think that DS Winsome Jackson’s views of her colleagues are understandable?

5. Annie Cabbot, who has endured some tough times as a police officer, makes a serious error of judgment in this book. What is your impression of what she did? Annie considers it to be "problem over." Do you agree that the "Eric" issue is resolved at the end of the book? If not, what do you foresee for Annie?

6. There are a number of female characters in this book, some very strong and successful, and others who have been damaged by events in their pasts. Why do you think that some of them have coped well with the hand that life has dealt them, while others have not? Does Peter Robinson’s portrayal of these women ring true?

7. Peter Robinson tells us a lot about the music the central characters — Banks, Annie, and now Sophia — listen to and about the books they read. Do these details enhance your understanding of these characters, and if so, in what way?

8. Banks’s love life has always been a bit of a shambles. Now Annie is having second thoughts about their breakup, and the alluring Sophia has arrived on the scene. Just how complicated do you think Bank’s love life is going to get?

9. One of the central "characters" in Friend of the Devil is the Maze itself. Discuss it in terms of a setting for murder. Do you think it could be seen as a metaphor for the police investigation and for the crimes and their resolution?

10. There are those who would say that murderers are victims, too, of everything from imagined slights to truly horrific events in their past. Discuss this idea of the murderer as victim, and how it applies to Friend of the Devil.

11. Do you believe that murder is ever justifiable?

12. In the end, was justice served in Friend of the Devil?

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 13 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 13 Customer Reviews
  • Posted August 1, 2009

    Fantastic book

    A Very good read. I read it on the plane on the way back from Europe could not put it down, very good plot with a few twists. Characters were complex, plot was excellent.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 23, 2009

    A Chilling "What If" story

    the consequences of horrific crimes reverberate a generation later in this story. I always enjoy my time with Inspector Banks and his familiars, and this is no exception. the plot is very dense but doesn't strain. The true pleasure is the writing itself. I try to start these books at a time when I can read them in one sitting.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 18, 2009

    Great series!

    I've been reading his books for about 10 years now--the series just keeps getting better!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 1, 2008

    A devilishly good read

    Fans of the Inspector Banks series will hope that Inspectors Alan Banks and Annie Cabbot can resolve their personal and romantic issues as well as the two cases that reunite them professionally in 'Friend of the Devil.' One murder - of a college student who was raped and strangled - is assigned to Banks' squad, the other - of a wheelchair bound woman discovered near a cliff edge with a slit throat - to Cabbot's unit, and the cases soon intersect. Cabbot's identification of the dead quadriplegic leads her and Banks back to one of their most harrowing cases, that of the serial killers from 'Aftermath.' Robinson's flair for characterization, especially of his two leads, lifts this mystery series above most others. It's refreshing to to read a crime novel where the people take precedence over the plot because so many crime writers do it the other way around. That's not to say that 'Friend of the Devil' does not have a compelling plot, because it does - it's suspense-filled and twisty-turny and you can't help but turn the pages quickly, even as you slow down every now and then to appreciate the fine character touches. Another first-class entry from this author.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    An incredibly exciting English police procedural

    Detective Inspector Annie Cabbot is on work loan to another precinct struggling with a brutal serial killer. The latest victim is a paraplegic woman whose throat was sliced by a nearby but remote cliff. Cabbot is frustrated as she wants to bring the animal to justice, but her investigation seems to be going nowhere.------------------ At the same time that Cabbot struggles with the brutal atrocities of a psychopath, at home in North Yorkshire, her sometimes lover Detective Chief Inspector Alan Banks and his unit work a vicious rape and murder case too in the sleazy Maze where no one cooperates with coppers. When Cabbot learns the identity of the paraplegic victim, she connects her investigation to that of Banks as both realize they are dealing once again with the cruel AFTERMATH of Terry and Lucy Payne.------------- Peter Robinson is at his best with this incredibly exciting English police procedural. The lead pair struggles with their relationship and where it is going while also seemingly going nowhere on their two seemingly separate cases. Readers will want to know what happens professionally and personally as Banks and Cabbot finally realize they are dealing with two perverted demons in human clothes.------- Harriet Klausner

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 11, 2007

    17th and best.....

    Detective Chief Inspector Alan Banks rises to the occasion again in this the 17th book in the series. Old friends like Annie Cabbot, Hatchley, Nowak & Winsome Jackman all re-appear and in part this story harks back to one of the main characters in 'Aftermath'. Peter Robinson's knowledge of North Yorkshire, which he describes so well and accurately 'I know, it's my former part of the world' is encyclopaedic, all the more remarkable as he lives in Toronto. A couple of gripping stories of murders most foul in one book - that's value for money! Peter Robinson gets everything right even down to the introduction of a smoking ban in English pubs as from 1st July. Go out and buy it and enjoy it. Meantime I'm greedy - I am eagerly awaiting the 18th...

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