Final Account (Inspector Alan Banks Series #7)by Peter Robinson
There's more than blood and bone beneath the skin ...
The victim, a nondescript "numbers cruncher," died horriblyjust yards away from his terrified wife and daughter, murdered by men who clearly enjoyed their work. The crime scene is one that could chill the blood of even the most seasoned police officer. But the strange revelations about an ordinary/p>
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There's more than blood and bone beneath the skin ...
The victim, a nondescript "numbers cruncher," died horriblyjust yards away from his terrified wife and daughter, murdered by men who clearly enjoyed their work. The crime scene is one that could chill the blood of even the most seasoned police officer. But the strange revelations about an ordinary accountant's extraordinary secret life are what truly set Chief Inspector Alan Banks off -- as lies breed further deceptions and blood begets blood, unleashing a policeman's dark passions ... and a violent rage that, when freed, might be impossible to control.
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The uniformed constable lifted the tape and waved Detective Chief Inspector Banks through the gate at two forty-seven in the morning.
Banks's headlights danced over the scene as he drove into the bumpy farmyard and came to a halt. To his left stood the squat, solid house itself, with its walls of thick limestone and mossy, flagstone roof. Lights shone in both the upstairs and downstairs windows. To his right, a high stone wall buttressed a copse that straggled up the daleside, where the trees became lost in darkness. Straight ahead stood the barn.
A group of officers had gathered around the open doors, inside which a ball of light seemed to be moving. They looked like the cast of a fifties sci-fi film gazing in awe on an alien spaceship or life-form.
When Banks arrived, they parted in silence to let him through. As he entered, he noticed one young PC leaning against the outside wall dribbling vomit on his size twelves. Inside, the scene looked like a film set.
Peter Darby, the police photographer, was busy videotaping, and the source of the light was attached to the top of his camera. It created an eerie chiaroscuro and sudden, sickening illuminations as it swept around the barn's interior. All he needed, Banks thought, was for someone to yell "Action!" and the place would suddenly be full of sound and motion.
But no amount of yelling would breathe life back into the grotesque shape on the floor, by which a whey-faced young police surgeon, Dr. Burns, squatted with a black notebook in his hand.
At first, the position of the body reminded Banks of a parody of Moslem prayer: the kneeling man bent forward from the waist, arms stretched out in front, bum in the air, forehead touching the ground, perhaps facing Mecca. His fists were clenched in the dirt, and Banks noticed the glint of a gold cufflink, initialled "KAR," as Darby's light flashed on it.
But there was no forehead to touch the ground. Above the charcoal suit jacket, the blood-soaked collar of the man's shirt protruded about an inch, and after that came nothing but a dark, coagulated mass of bone and tissue spread out on the dirt like an oil stain: a shotgun wound, by the look of it. Patches of blood, bone and brain matter stuck to the whitewashed stone walls in abstract-expressionist patterns. Darby's roving light caught what looked like a fragment of skull sprouting a tuft of fair hair beside a rusty hoe.
Banks felt the bile rise in his throat. He could still smell the gunpowder, reminiscent of a childhood bonfire night, mixed with the stink of urine and feces and the rancid raw meat smell of sudden violent death.
"What time did the call come in?" he asked the PC beside him.
"One thirty-eight, sir. PC Carstairs from Relton was first on the scene. He's still puking up out front."
Banks nodded. "Do we know who the victim was?"
"DC Gay checked his wallet, sir. Name's Keith Rothwell. That's the name of the bloke who lived here, all right." He pointed over to the house. "Arkbeck Farm, it's called."
"Nay, sir. Accountant. Some sort of businessman, anyroad."
One of the constables found a light switch and turned on the bare bulb, which became a foundation for the brighter light of Darby's video camera. Most regions didn't use video because it was hard to get good enough quality, but Peter Darby was a hardware junkie, forever experimenting.
Banks turned his attention back to the scene. The place looked as if it had once been a large stone Yorkshire barn, with double doors and a hayloft, called a "field house" in those parts. Originally, it would have been used to keep the cows inside between November and May, and to store fodder, but Rothwell seemed to have converted it into a garage.
To Banks's right, a silver-gray BMW, parked at a slight angle, took up about half the space. Beyond the car, against the far wall, a number of metal shelf units held all the tools and potions one would associate with car care: antifreeze, wax polish, oily rags, screwdrivers, spanners. Rothwell had retained the rural look in the other half of the garage. He had even hung old farm implements on the whitewashed stone wall: a mucking rake, a hay knife, a draining scoop and a Tom spade, among others, all suitably rusted.
As he stood there, Banks tried to picture what might have happened. The victim had clearly been kneeling, perhaps praying or pleading for his life. It certainly didn't look as if he had tried to escape. Why had he submitted so easily? Not much choice, probably, Banks thought. You usually don't argue when someone is pointing a shotgun at you. But still . . . would a man simply kneel there, brace himself and wait for his executioner to pull the trigger?
Banks turned and left the barn. Outside, he met Detective Sergeant Philip Richmond and Detective Constable Susan Gay coming from around the back.
"Nothing there, sir, far as I can tell," said Richmond, a large torch in his hand. Susan, beside him, looked pale in the glow from the barn entrance.
"All right?" Banks asked her.
"I'm okay now, sir. I was sick, though."
Richmond looked the same as ever. His sang-froid was legendary around the place, so much so that Banks sometimes wondered if he had any feelings at all or whether he had come to resemble one of those computers he spent most of his time with.
"Anyone know what happened?" Banks asked.
"PC Carstairs had a quick word with the victim's wife when he first got here," said Susan. "All she could tell him was that a couple of men were waiting when she got home and they took her husband outside and shot him." She shrugged ...Final Account. Copyright © by Peter Robinson. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Meet 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. He divides his time between Toronto and England.
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When Robinson began this series, the books were a bit more lighthearted (by murder mystery standards). By book 7, however, the subject is very dark and some of the humor is gone, replaced by suspense and more drama. This isn't a bad thing, as the pages fly when reading this book. Any novel that starts out with a wife and child seeing the headless corpse of a loved one signals that very bad things are going to happen throughout the novel. Robinson once again examines the family dynamic and how keeping things from one another can tear a family apart, this time through the family of the deceased. They are an odd lot, fully bent on each keeping to themselves, even when trying to provide the same stories to the police. Also, the minor cracks Inspector Banks' marriage that began with "Wednesday's Child" (book 6) are beginning to grow. He finds himself lonely at times, searching his inner self for feelings he wasn't sure he had. He even gets in a fist fight (don't worry, no spoilers), which is uncharacteristic of the usually moral man who uses his head to solve problems. Overall this is a great book to read. As with all series, I recommend starting with Book 1 and working your way to this.
Peter Robinson is known for the twists and turns of the plots in the DCI Banks series. And “Final Account” is no exception. It all begins with the home invasion of Keith Rothwell’s house by two goons, during which ultimately he is removed to the garage, while his wife and daughter are tied to chairs. Then shots were heard and a body found in the garage with the face blasted by shotgun pellets. Thus begins an exhaustive police procedural with any number of red herrings strewn through the investigation. Rothwell, an accountant and money manager, was presumed murdered for some shenanigan he had perpetrated on a client. An erstwhile associate, a tax attorney, goes missing, and a number of other acts of violence occur. As Banks proceeds from clue to clue the reader is led to believe the obvious. Not so, as the author applies his trademark twisted conclusion. The book (and Banks) plod along, setting up the unusual finale. It is truly a masterstroke, to be read and enjoyed, and it is highly recommended.
This book was a real nail biter. I recommend it!