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

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

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

New York Times bestselling and Edgar award-winning author Peter Robinson—a riveting double homicide leaves two seasoned detectives baffled as they race against the clock before more corpses surface.

Two murders . . . two towns . . .

A woman sits in a wheelchair perched on a cliff high above the sea, her throat slit from ear to ear . . .

In a maze of narrow alleys behind a market square, a teenaged girl has been murdered after a night of drunken revelries with her friends.

The seemingly senseless Cliffside killing falls to Inspector Annie Cabbot, on loan to a local police department. The terrible death of young Hayley Daniels becomes Chief Inspector Alan Banks's investigation. But shattering revelations threaten to awaken the slumbering demons of earlier, darker times, and more blood is in the offing when the two cases brutally and unexpectedly collide.

Friend of the Devil is a chilling, brilliant, and utterly mesmerizing novel of suspense.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780061803055
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 10/13/2009
Series: Inspector Alan Banks Series , #17
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 432
Sales rank: 54,200
File size: 824 KB

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. He divides his time between Toronto and England.

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.

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?

Customer Reviews

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Friend of the Devil 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 15 reviews.
dave123 More than 1 year ago
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.
NExSW More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I've been reading his books for about 10 years now--the series just keeps getting better!
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
harstan More than 1 year ago
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
ronnies4 More than 1 year ago
Couldn't finish it. Too many characters, and I was bored.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Although this is not the best book in the Inspector Banks series, it is vintage Robinson. In addition to the new mysteries to unravel, you'll learn what happens to some characters you've met in earlier novels - always a good hook. AJ West
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Guest More than 1 year ago
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...