Cold is the Grave by Peter Robinson: Book Review

There’s quite a lot to think about reading Cold is the Grave by Peter Robinson. First of all are the crimes, the characters, how they interact and so on and then there are  a number of issues raised – including the difficulties of family relationships, the problems arising when professional  and personal lives overlap, and the effects of guilt.

Description from the back cover:

Detective Inspector Banks’s relationship with Chief Constable Riddle has always been strained. So Banks is more than a little surprised when Riddle summons him late one night and begs for his help.

For Riddle, Banks’s new case is terrifyingly close to home. Six months ago his sixteen-year old daughter ran away to London, where she has fallen into a turbulent world of drugs and pornography. With his reputation threatened, Riddle wants Banks to use his unorthodox methods to find her without fuss. But before he knows it, Banks is investigating murder …

My thoughts:

This is the 11th book in the Inspector Banks series and refers back to incidents in previous books. It’s not too difficult to follow if you haven’t read all the others (as I haven’t) but I think it would help and I wish that I had. It’s also a bit too long for my liking – maybe reading older crime fiction has  made me prefer a tighter and shorter book. However, this is still a good read.

Banks quickly finds Emily, living with Barry Clough a dubious character, old enough to be her father and wealthy from the proceeds of bootlegged computer games and software. Sickened by her life with Clough, she returns home with Banks and then one month later she is found dead, murdered by a mixture of cocaine and strychnine. Banks finds it difficult to stand back and be objective. It becomes personal to him and Detective Superintendent Gristhorpe has to warn Banks,

… don’t let anger and a desire for revenge cloud your judgement. Look clearly at the evidence, the facts before you make any moves. Don’t go off half-cocked the way you’ve done in the past. (page 192)

He and his team, including Detective Sergeant Annie Cabot, are also investigating the death of Charlie Courage, a small-time crook. Their investigations take them from their base in Eastvale, Yorkshire down to London, Stony Stratford, and Leicestershire, with links to crime in Northumbria. At first this seems to be unrelated to Emily’s death but Banks begins to suspect that the two cases maybe linked.

More complications follow with blackmail, another death and suicide, but eventually Banks and Annie work their way through the maze of events. Banks, though, has more victims of crime to add to those that bother his sleep with feelings of guilt, thinking that he should have dug deeper, and that he could have prevented the murders. He knew there was ‘something desperately out of kilter with the Riddle family’, and realises that Emily’s death was

… murder from a distance, perhaps even death by proxy, which made it all the more bloody to solve. (page 271)

This is a detailed and comprehensive police procedural as well as a thoughtful look at the problems of modern life. One to ponder.


4 thoughts on “Cold is the Grave by Peter Robinson: Book Review

  1. Margaret – Thanks, as ever, for a fine review. In my opinion, Robinson does an effective job in his novels of raising issues to think about without losing sight of the story and the characters. Glad you found this to be a good read.


  2. I love Peter Robinson, but I came in halfway through the series and I’ve never quite managed to work out which of the earlier ones I’ve read and which I’ve missed. This, I think, is one I haven’t got round to. I must put that right. Robinson’s next book is going to be a standalone. I don’t know how I feel about that. I’ve got used to my yearly fix of Banks and I think I’m going to miss him.


  3. Hi Margaret,
    What a coincidence!
    I have been trying to sort out some of my fiction, ready to file it in alphabetical order, into new bookscases which we have just ordered, and I came across this book, which is now nestling not too far from the top of one of the ‘R’ piles.
    It may have to stay out now in my pile of ‘next to reads’, after your great review, thanks.


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