Books I’ve Read: Watching the Dark

I write about mission and theology and I muse about Bible translation, but when push comes to shove, my real field of expertise is detective novels. I’ve read lots of Agatha Christie (clever mysteries, dreadful characterization) a fair bit of Simenon (amazing characters, boring mysteries – and in French), all of the Morse books, the whole of P.D. James detective oeuvre and so it goes on. I know my Frost from my Marlowe  and my Lindley from my Havers. I even have more than a nodding acquaintance with Ngaio Marsh and Margery Allingham And I read Nordic thrillers before they were noir or à la mode.

I don’t say this to boast, nor to indicate that I have too much time on my hands (I’m a fast reader), simply to establish my credentials as one who knows his crime fiction. You can trust me, when I speak of this genre. And the thing you should trust me saying is that Peter Robinson’s Inspector Banks novels are the pick of the crop.

Set in the Yorkshire Dales, these books have excellent, believable characters, who grow from novel to  novel. I don’t know if the details about police work are accurate, but they certainly sound as though they are and add a ring of authenticity to the books. The stories are well constructed and satisfying. I have never finished a Banks’ book without wanting to start another one immediately. The problem with Watching the Dark is that it is the latest one in the series and I’ve read all of the others. Don’t let that put you off, Watching the Dark is a terrific novel and well worth a read, but if you’ve never read anything by Robinson, I’d start with Gallows View the first book in the series.

if you only exposure to Inspector Banks is the TV series, don’t be put off – read the books.

As for me, I can’t wait for the next one to come out.