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Sleeping in the Ground: An Inspector Banks Novel

Review

Sleeping in the Ground: An Inspector Banks Novel

Peter Robinson is incapable of writing badly. There is a charm that permeates each and every book he writes, from his long-running and much-treasured Inspector Alan Banks series to his occasional stand-alone works. That said, it is a delight to find at this late date that SLEEPING IN THE GROUND, the 24th installment in the Banks canon, is one of his best novels thus far.

You know that SLEEPING IN THE GROUND is something special from its first page. Robinson wastes no time in kicking things off with a shocking vignette that propels the book from beginning to end. The act --- a sniper attack on a wedding party --- brings Detective Superintendent Banks and his investigative team into immediate action. The questions of “who” and “why” are entwined throughout, even though it appears that the doer is determined quickly enough, but not before he kills himself in his own basement.

"You get far more than you would expect from a mystery story with SLEEPING IN THE GROUND. If you aren’t familiar with Robinson and Banks, or haven’t dipped into this series for a while, now is the perfect time to return."

Things seem wrapped up just a little too neatly for Banks and company, and the deceased suspect --- a retired dentist --- hardly seems like the type to carry out such a heinous crime, let alone have even the most remote motive for doing so. Banks and his team --- particularly Gerry Masterson, the newest member of the club --- have to dig deeply into the past to uncover a motive that, in turn, will lead to a connection in the present. However, the only one they can find is a murder that occurred a half-century in the past, one in which a young girl who was a friend of the bride’s mother was raped and killed.

The killer, many years after the fact, was found, and the clue seems like a dead end. The team is left wondering what possible connection there could be between a cold case that was finally resolved and a present-day mass murder. Banks ultimately finds a second clue through dogged police work, even as he is still coming to grips with his own past as his first love --- who he hasn’t seen in 40 years ---succumbs to cancer and provides him from beyond the grave with a question that has haunted him for decades.

Meanwhile, a killer waits to exact one last act of revenge, which is carried out under cover of darkness against an all-but-helpless victim. It results in a race against time in the term’s truest sense, as Banks races to the rescue where he is almost certain to be too late. The suspense is excruciating and the conclusion even more so.

While SLEEPING IN THE GROUND features a new and tantalizing mystery --- one of Robinson’s best in recent memory --- this latest Banks offering includes some welcoming constants. Banks is a walking repository of popular music, and this book contains a playlist of artists and albums familiar, forgotten and unknown across a range of musical genres. Aficionados of adult beverages will also find a wide-ranging list of spirits to sample and enjoy, possibly even while reading this worthy novel. You get far more than you would expect from a mystery story with SLEEPING IN THE GROUND. If you aren’t familiar with Robinson and Banks, or haven’t dipped into this series for a while, now is the perfect time to return.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on August 18, 2017

Sleeping in the Ground: An Inspector Banks Novel
by Peter Robinson

  • Publication Date: August 15, 2017
  • Genres: Fiction, Mystery, Suspense, Thriller
  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow
  • ISBN-10: 0062395076
  • ISBN-13: 9780062395078