Sunday, September 17, 2023

Standing in the Shadows - Inspector Banks #28

Standing in the Shadows is the 28th DCI Banks procedural mystery by Peter Robinson. Released 11th April 2023 by HarperCollins on their Wm. Morrow imprint, it's 368 pages and is available in hardcover, audio, and ebook formats. Paperback is due out from the same publisher in second quarter 2024. It's worth noting that the ebook format has a handy interactive table of contents as well as interactive links and references throughout. I've really become enamored of ebooks with interactive formats.

This is a very well established series, with a returning ensemble cast of believable characters. The writing is always of such high quality that (despite the longevity of the series) it never ever feels phoned in or less than engaging and worthy. It's told in a dual timeline; 1980s and 2019 and the two stories, seemingly unconnected at first, twine ever closer into a phenomenal resolution and denouement. 

DCI Banks is cerebral and clever and genuinely moral and a very good investigator. He takes his remit very seriously, and he has a close team of colleagues. They have their own stories, and the whole is a well woven tapestry which is a joy to read. 

The story is woven around real life historical events and politicians active during the period, and it's so skillfully done that it's not always clear where fact shades into fiction. The ending managed a few surprises and the whole was satisfying and self contained. It's possible to read the books in any order, but readers who do so risk small spoilers in the characters' back history. 

Although it's not at all derivative, in some good ways, author Peter Robinson's style and the character of Banks himself, remind me of Colin Dexter's Morse. Cerebral and civilized, with a laser insight to humanity and its foibles.  

The unabridged audiobook version has a run time of 9 hours, 59 minutes, and is expertly narrated by series narrator Simon Vance. He has a remarkably versatile voice, switching from gravelly Cockney to refined public school accents in male and female voices in a range of ages. Really one of the better audiobooks of 2023. 

Four and a half stars for both the audio and print versions. This would make a superlative binge/buddy read, or a good choice for mystery book club analysis as there's a significant portion of weighty social reform/politics/history involved with a lot of good discussion potential. 

Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes

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