Detective Chief Inspector Alan Banks' life is shaken to the core when he is unexpectedly pulled into the investigation of a young girl's disappearance in this shattering suspense novel from the hand of a modern master.
“Full of twists and surprises....Robinson shows he has only begun to dig into the personality of his tenacious, thoughtful inspector.”—Chicago Tribune
When the nude photo of a teenage runaway shows up on a website, the girl's father turns to Detective Chief Inspector Alan banks for help. But these aren’t unusual circumstances, for the runaway is the daughter of a man who's determined to destroy the dedicated Yorkshire policeman's career and good name. Still, it’s a case that Banks—a father himself—dares not ignore as he follows its trail into teeming London. But when a series of gruesome murders follows soon after, Banks finds himself pulled into the past and private world of his most powerful enemy, Chief Constable Jimmy Riddle.
Peter Robinson is at the height of his storytelling skills in this twisting novel of suspense that proves one can never escape their pasts—especially when there are sordid secrets waiting to be revealed.
About the Author
One of the world’s most popular and acclaimed writers, Peter Robinson is the bestselling, award-winning author of the Inspector Banks series; he has also written two short-story collections and three standalone novels, which combined have sold more than ten million copies around the world. Among his many honors and prizes are the Edgar Award, the CWA (UK) Dagger in the Library Award, and Sweden’s Martin Beck Award.
Read an Excerpt
"Mummy! Mummy! Come here."
Rosalind carried on stuffing the wild mushroom, olive oil, garlic and parsley mixture between the skin and the flesh of the chicken, the way she had learned in her recent course on the art of French cuisine. "Mummy can't come right now," she shouted back. "She's busy."
"But, Mummy! You've got to come. It's our lass."
Where on earth did he learn such common language? Rosalind wondered. Every term they forked out a fortune in fees to send him to the best school Yorkshire had to offer, and still he ended up sounding like some vulgar tyke. Perhaps if they lived down south again, the situation would improve. "Benjamin," she called back. "I told you. Mummy's busy. Daddy has an important dinner tonight and Mummy has to prepare."
Rosalind didn't mind cooking in fact, she had taken several courses and quite enjoyed them but just for a moment, as she spoke, she wished she had been able to say that "cook" was preparing the meal and that she was busy deciding what to wear. But they had no cook, only a cleaning lady who came in once a week. It wasn't that they couldn't afford it, but simply that her husband drew the line at such extravagance. Honestly, Rosalind sometimes thought, anyone would imagine he was a born Yorkshireman himself instead of just living here.
"But it is her!" Benjamin persisted. "It's our lass. She's got no clothes on."
Rosalind frowned and put aside her knife. What on earth could he be talking about? Benjamin was only eight, and she knew from experience that he had a very active imagination. She even worried that it might hold him back in life.Overimaginative types, she had found, tend toward idleness and daydreaming; they don't get on with more profitable activities.
"Mummy, hurry up!"
Rosalind felt just the slightest tingle of apprehension, as if something were about to change forever in her universe. Shaking off the feeling, she wiped her hands of the oily stuffing, took a quick sip of gin and tonic, then walked toward the study, where Benjamin had been playing on the computer. As she did so, she heard the front door open and her husband call out that he was home. Early. She frowned. Was he checking up on her?
Ignoring him for the moment, she went to see what on earth Benjamin was talking about.
"Look," the boy said as she walked into the room. "It is our lass." He pointed at the computer screen.
"Don't talk like that," Rosalind said. "I've told you before. It's common."
Then she looked.
At first, she was simply shocked to see the screen filled with the image of a naked woman. How had Benjamin stumbled onto such a site? He wasn't even old enough to understand what he had found.
Then, as she leaned over his shoulder and peered more closely at the screen, she gasped. He was right. She was looking at a picture of her daughter, Emily, naked as the day she was born, but with considerably more curves, a tattoo and a wispy patch of blond pubic hair between her legs. That it was her Emily, there was no mistake; the teardrop-shaped birthmark on the inside of her left thigh proved it.
Rosalind ran her hand through her hair. What was this all about? What was happening? She glanced briefly at the URL on top of the screen. She had a photographic memory, so she knew she wouldn't forget it.
"See," said Benjamin. "It is our lass, isn't it. What's she doing without any clothes on, Mummy?"
Then Rosalind panicked. My God, he mustn't see this. Emily's father. He mustn't be allowed to see it. It would destroy him. Quickly, she reached toward the mouse, but before her fingers could click on it, a deep voice behind her told her it was too late.
"What on earth's going on?" he asked mildly, putting a fatherly hand on his son's shoulder.
Then, after the briefest of silences, Rosalind heard the sharp intake of breath and knew that he had the answer.
His hand tightened and Benjamin flinched. "Daddy, you're hurting me."
But Chief Constable Jeremiah Riddle was oblivious to his son's pain. "My God!" he gasped, pointing at the screen. "Is that who I think it is?"
Detective Chief Inspector Alan Banks paused over his holdall, wondering whether he should take the leather jacket or the Windcheater. There wasn't room for both. He wasn't sure how cold it would be. Probably no different from Yorkshire, he guessed. At most, perhaps a couple of degrees warmer. Still, you never could tell with November. In the end, he decided he could take both. He folded the Windcheater and put it on top of the shirts he had already packed, then he pressed down hard on the contents before dragging the reluctant zip shut. It seemed a lot for just one weekend away from home, but it all fitted into one not-too-heavy bag. He would wear his leather jacket on the journey.
All he had to do now was choose a book and a few tapes. He probably wouldn't need them, but he didn't like to travel anywhere without something to read and something to listen to in case of delays or emergencies.
It was a lesson he had learned the hard way, having once spent four hours in the casualty department of a large London hospital on a Saturday night waiting to have six stitches sewn beside his right eye. All that time, he had held the gauze pad to stanch the bleeding and watched the endless supply of drug overdoses, attempted suicides, heart-attack victims and road accidents going in before him. That their wounds were far more serious and merited more urgent treatment than his minor cut, Banks never had a moment's doubt, but he wished to hell there had been something to read in the dingy waiting area other than a copy of the previous day's Daily Mirror. The person who had read it before him had even filled in the crossword. In ink.
Table of Contents
Exclusive Author Essay
One of the great, little-known joys of being a novelist, especially a crime writer, is that you can take revenge on your real-life enemies in any number of interesting ways. You can have them slowly garroted, boiled in oil, or diced up into little pieces; you can give them bad habits, bad breath, body odour, and a propensity for making rude noises in public. It may be childish -- it probably is -- but that's not to deny that, like many childish things, it gives a great deal of satisfaction.
Bosses are especially fertile ground. Everyone's had the kind of petty-minded, overbearing boss such as Chief Constable Riddle in Dead Right and In a Dry Season, the kind of boss who just won't leave you alone, the kind who wields the power of the position without possessing any of the skills necessary to gain the respect he feels is owed to him.
Many years ago, just after I left school, I worked for a large company in England as a commercial apprentice, which meant that I spent about six months learning the ropes in each different department, from sales to accounting. Mostly, this went well, but in one department I bumped into that kind of boss for the first time. If I was two minutes late back from lunch, he was there, waiting; if I made the slightest error in a letter or report, he was at my desk gleefully brandishing it within seconds; if I had a few words with one of my colleagues over coffee, he was on my back. This person just would not let me be, and I had no idea why.
It's the same for DCI Banks. He has no idea why Chief Constable Riddle has chosen to persecute him rather than someone else. Call it a clash of personalities, but that hardly does such a campaign of tyranny any justice. Riddle has tried to do as much damage as possible to Banks's career, has accused him of skiving off and having affairs. What remains, though, what Riddle can't take away, is Banks's skill as a detective, and that is why it is to him Riddle turns at the beginning of Cold Is the Grave, when a nude picture of his runaway teenage daughter appears on an Internet web site.
Certainly the woes and miseries heaped on Chief Constable Riddle during Cold Is the Grave add up to an excess revenge, but at the same time, in order to make Riddle suffer, I had to make him human, and that was a challenge. In the previous few books he had simply been a rather one-dimensional tyrant, but nobody would care what befell such a person. I'm not sure how much I have made Riddle a sympathetic character in this book -- perhaps that is beyond any writer's skill -- but I have tried to make him at least understandable. You will find out to some extent what makes him tick, and, perhaps more important, you will also discover the secret of his loathing for Banks.
As for that boss of mine, I never found out why he hated me so much. Perhaps he was going through a particularly nasty divorce and I was the easiest person to pick on, or maybe I reminded him of a son he felt had let him down. Maybe he was just a vindictive person at heart. Whatever the reason, he helped drive me away from the kind of employment where one is vulnerable to the moods and methods of someone who should never be given power over other people in the first place. Being a writer, I have no boss -- or at least so I thought until my editor said she needed me to write this piece and it had to be done quickly. Perhaps in the next book, an editor might meet an unfortunate accident with a pointed stick -- or perhaps that should be a fate reserved for critics!
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Chief Constable Jimmy Riddle 'asks' a member of his staff, Yorkshire Detective Chief Inspector Alan Banks, to discreetly do him a favor. Alan would relish telling his detestable boss to shove it because Jimmy has all but destroyed his career. However, discretion being more important than a trip to Paris and the fact that Jimmy has just about groveled, Alan finally agrees to help. Jimmy's preadolescent son has found a nude picture of his teenage older sister Emily, a runaway, on the net. Jimmy wants Alan to insure his daughter is safe and to ask if she would like to come home. Alan, accompanied by his former lover Sergeant Annie Cabot, quickly finds Emily amidst two of London's strong pillars: the drug and porno scenes. Alan succeeds in escorting the sixteen-year-old back to the nest, but a murder soon finds the DCI investigating a case tied back to Chief Constable Riddle and his now united family. COLD IN THE GRAVE is an entertaining Alan Banks police procedural that die-hard fans of English investigative novels will enjoy. Banks retains that freshness that marks him as one of the best police charcaters of the last few years. However, the story line, though well written and exciting, depends too heavily on incidents that forces the reader to accept leaps of faith. Having Annie work with Alan may seem contrived yet their professional relationship adds sexual tension and causes intriguing stumbles to the investigation. Although not quite as good as the previous tale (IN A DRY SEASON), Peter Robinson's latest story can be banked on for providing a novel that series readers will still enjoy. Harriet Klausner
It is not padded, in my opinion, the story flows and was a great read. Highly recommended. What is meant by Headline ?
A somewhat messy book--maybe more realistic for it, but it still did not quite satisfy. I am not a great fan of too much of the detectives relationships coming through. Not a great admirer of Bank's Annie.
I read In A Dry Season and then I decided to tackle the follow up to it. I must say that Peter Robinson is quite a brave soul. He had hit a home run with In A Dry Season and he very well could have done something similar, instead he went another direction. This book, the 11th in the series is much safer by virtue of the plot devising but more difficult by virtue of the fact that Robinson decided to change the way the story is told. This is by far the more conventional story, involving oversexed teenagers and casual drug use, a much more conventional setting for the murder. The usual cliches of gangsters, social climbing spouses, disagreeable bosses, all comes into play. I thought the plotting was excellent, the characters were pretty well developed but not as well developed as In A Dry Season. Part of the reason is that the previous story took place in two disparate epochs so the detailed telling of both sides of the story was necessary. It was not necessary for this story so I think Robionson slacked off a tad. The continuing romance between Banks and Annie is very well done, it serves as a good background for when the main plot gets too heavy. Robinson shows a very deft touch with the balance of the two story lines and he also deliciously complicates his plot. Even though this story may be of a more conventional gum shoe genre, it held my attention quite well and I read the book in one day, needless to say it was quite absorbing. The final twist on the story was somewhat shocking. I was able to see it only two or three pages ahead of the book. But I did not view the twist as a gimmick or a desperate attempt by a writer to save an ignominiously plotted story, instead it is a very natural yet unobvious plot turn which seemed to develop organically by the author. I would recommend this book on its own, a fine murder mystery for anglophiles but especially Yorkshirephiles.
This is one of the more enjoyable Inspector Banks novels. I am reading through the entire series, I guess, and this is #11. It's a bit longer and more involved, with excellent characters and a good plot. I recommend, if you like these British procedurals, that you start at #1. The writing is insightful, giving a lot of the inner thoughts of the characters. This gives the plots more meaning and makes the story more believable. I recommend this series, along with the Inspector Rutledge series by Charles Todd, The Logan McRae series by Stuart McBride, and John Connolly's most excellent Bosch books.
Stranger things have happened, but when Chief Constable Jimmy Riddle asked Detective Chief Inspector Alan Banks for a favor the world didn’t stop turning. Neither man liked the other, and the antagonism between them was more than apparent. But Riddle recognizes that Banks was good at what he does and is discreet, and that is what he needed. It seems that his daughter had left home some time ago, and there was no word from her. Banks is asked to find her in London, talk to her, and reassure her parents that she’s OK. But Banks does more than that, in just over a weekend. He not only finds her, but he brings her home. And the consequences flow from this simple task. And then a series of murders takes place, and Banks finds himself in the middle of not only a murder investigation, but also in the midst of his chief antagonist’s private life. Meanwhile, Bank’s own private life begins to take some dramatic turns as well. As are all he novels in the series, this book is finely nuanced, well-written, and filled with twists and turns to keep the reader on the edge of the seat. Enough said. Recommended.
It's as though the author is padding to increase the page count. Who cares what music every character listens to, much less what opinion the protagonist has about the selections? It's apparently mandatory to establish the character of the protagonist by informing the reader which Scotch the hero drinks, in this case, innumerable times. The author has failed to establish a vivid hero; he simply hopes we will infer personality. Actually, he prefers not to let the reader discover the hero's character and personality but, instead, tells us outright the hero's psychology. He doesn't stop with the hero, but extends this technique to the inevitable love-interest sidekick. Again, the author tells us her point of view instead of drawing her character through words and deeds. Telling us she liked completing a certain task as much as she did a visit to her gynecologist simply reinforced the two-dimensional portrait. And...spoiler alert...his description of her memories of being raped are not only hackneyed, but not needed to advance the plot. As much as I wanted to find out who did it, I put the book down after reading only half because I could not bear to spend any more time on this by-the-numbers book. In spite of an intriguing plot this book, like the others in this series, is a big yawn.