Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton, 2007
Reviewed by Kerrie Smith
Sunday morning brings with it the discovery of two murders, both women,
one in a seedier part of the town of Eastvale, and the other in a
wheelchair on a headland near Whitby. DCI Alan Banks attends the Eastvale
crime scene while his former colleague DI Annie Cabbot, on loan to Eastern
Area, takes on the wheelchair murder.
The body of nineteen year old Hayley Daniels is discovered in the
storeroom of a leather good shop in the Maze. CCTV shows Hayley entering
the Maze on her own, so was her murderer waiting for her?
The body in the wheelchair, on the other hand, is that of a quadriplegic.
Her murderer appears to have collected her from the care facility where
she has been living, taken her to the headland, and slit her throat. Annie
Cabbot's search for clues to the woman's background and identity unearths
a connection to an old case that both she and Banks were involved in.
Annie is not handling her current situation at all well. She misses
working with Banks and her search for personal reward is leading her down
paths fraught with disaster. From the moment it is revealed that Banks and
Cabbot are working apart, it is inevitable that their paths will cross.
This does give THE FRIEND OF THE DEVIL a certain sense of predictability,
although the nature of their relationship when they meet is problematic
for both Banks and Cabbot. I enjoyed the expansion of the other characters
including Detective Superintendent Catherine Gervaise, DS Kevin Templeton,
and DC Winsome Jackman. Jackman in particular acts as a bridge between the
investigations of Banks and Cabbot.
THE FRIEND OF THE DEVIL is the 17th Inspector Banks novel, and Robinson
shows that he still has the capacity to surprise even while plumbing new
depths in the Banks/Cabbot relationship. Annie Cabbot first appeared in
1999's IN A DRY SEASON, eight books before FRIEND OF THE DEVIL. Through
her, Robinson has been exploring the parameters of successful detective
partnerships. It is an issue which other authors like Ruth Rendell,
Reginald Hill, and Colin Dexter avoided with their male duos. The
relationship between Banks and Cabbot is not that of two equals: he after
all is the "boss", and he is also quite a bit older than her. Robinson
asks questions about whether the relationship between male and female
detective duos needs to be emotional and whether it can ever be sexual.
The changing landscape of the Banks/Cabbot relationship is part of what
keeps fans coming back to this series.
Peter Robinson's website:
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