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By Peter Robinson

Harper Mass Market PB, February 2010 ($7.99)

ISBN-10: 0061362948
ISBN 13: 9780061362941

William Morrow; February 17, 2009 ($25.99)
ISBN-10: 006136293X
ISBN-13: 978-0061362934

Reviewed by Larry Jung
(June 2009)

The nineteenth and latest Inspector Alan Banks novel of suspense starts with an apparent suicide by hanging. DI Annie Cabot is called to be officer-in-charge to investigate. But what seems like a simple unfortunate death of a young man quickly turns into two deaths, one a brutal murder. Things are complicated because the murdered man is from a prominent and well-connected family. The neighborhood of the murdered man is the same as the Chief Constable. There is almost immediately pressure to keep the press away. DCI Alan Banks is recalled from holiday to take over from Annie Cabot because of the delicate circumstances.

This puts Annie Cabot is a bad situation. She is upset that she is not trusted to handle the investigation. Because of their past romantic relationship, Annie Cabot would find it awkward to work with Banks. Banks, for his part, still thinks Annie does not want him to move on and she would be happy if his latest relationship with Sophia does not work out. He unfairly blames Annie for being called back to duty away from his weekend with Sophia.

The investigation reveals the murdered man was part of the secret intelligence apparatus during the Cold War and not completely retired. It seemed there were still secrets to be kept. Banks is warned off by the secret intelligence agency. At the same time, Banks’ and Annie’s boss shuts down the investigation. But Banks is now sure there must be more to it if he is being warned off. He goes off on his own, unofficially. Annie’s relationship with Banks is tested as he asks for her help. Annie has been warned not to do anything more about the murder/suicide. If she is caught helping Banks in his rogue investigation, it would mean the end of her career. For all his suspicion of Annie, she is the only one Banks can trust in the police force.

But Banks, as usual, knows there is something, but needs time to find the answers. The theory based on the play Othello is the filmiest, but Annie trusts Banks as a cop to continue to help him.

For DI Annie Cabot fans they will be delighted with ALL THE COLOR OF DARKNESS. There is freshness to the story that I credit to the character of DI Annie Cabot. She has emerged as a character second only to Alan Banks. The relationship between the two is more than that of a side-kick (Watson to Holmes). Annie’s character is able to carry large chunks of the story without Banks. (The Susan Gay character never developed beyond a foil for Banks.) For new readers to the Alan Banks series, this book and the previous FRIEND OF THE DEVIL are good places to start. The books fill in enough background so the reader is not lost with what has gone before with Banks and Annie Cabot. Veteran readers of the series will not be disappointed.

This review is based on the hardcover edition.

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