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By Peter Robinson

Avon Books, July, 2000 (pbk)

Reviewed by Karen Meek

Whilst usually reluctant to dive into a new series without starting at book one, the rave reviews about IN A DRY SEASON have enticed me to plunge in at this the most recent and tenth of the Detective Chief Inspector Banks novels. The praise is unusually well founded as the story grips from page 1 and holds you absorbed until the resolution some 400 pages later.

A severe drought causes Thornfield Reservoir in Yorkshire to dry out for the first time since its creation 50 years ago. A young boy playing in the ruins of the once submerged village of Hobb's End, discovers a skeleton and DCI Banks, out of favour with the top brass is given the task of identifying the victim and murderer. When the skeleton is found to date to a time before the reservoir was created, this becomes a difficult task in deed. Detective Sergeant Annie Cabbot, a bright officer who has nonetheless chosen a quiet assignment in deepest Yorkshire, is also assigned to the investigation.

Though this is a tantalising premise already, it is the manner in which the author conveys the who, what and why, that makes this book such an enjoyable and interesting read. The narrative is presented from two perspectives, the contemporary one of Banks and Cabbot but also an historic one from the viewpoint of one of the inhabitants of the village during the Second World War. It is the atmosphere conveyed by the details of the war, the rationing, the military and so on that lift the book above just being an excellent whodunit. In addition, for the series reader there is Banks's increasing confidence and improved relationships with colleagues and family to savour and hopefully the introduction of DS Cabbot as a regular character.

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