The Canadian author of A Dedicated Man ( LJ 7/91) continues the Inspector Alan Banks series, set in Yorkshire, England. Banks and the female first-officer-on-the-scene delve into a viciously murdered woman's past.
The inhabitants of Robinson's Yorkshire are a far cry from James Herriot's sturdy farmers. In this literate mystery, Chief Inspector Alan Banks must deal with the vicious stabbing death of a young lesbian in a room illuminated by the light of a crackling fire and a Christmas tree, the murder by starvation of an incestuous old lecher, the slashing to ribbons of a Twelfth Night cast's costumes and the near-fatal strangulation of his newest detective constable, Susan Gay. Banks, seen last in The Hanging Valley, subjects all potential suspects--including past and present spouses and lovers, a group of amateur thespians and members of the police force--to an extended (perhaps too extended) psychological investigation. The puzzle's grip is weakened by some unconvincing red herrings and the detectives' lengthy musings; nevertheless, Robinson, a Toronto resident and winner of the Crime Writers of Canada Best Novel award, creates an appealing Yorkshire setting with evocative descriptions of the wintry town, dales and seaside. ( Aug. )