Standing in the Shadows is the 28th and final Inspector Banks novel by the late Peter Robinson. This is an enjoyable police procedural. As it contains spoilers to previous novels, I would not use it to introduce a new reader to the series.

Peter Robinson’s Standing in the Shadows is split between two timelines and narrators. The first timeline is 1980 and told by Nicholas Hartley, a student. His former girlfriend, Alice Poole, has been killed, perhaps by the Yorkshire Ripper, and her boyfriend is missing. Hartley goes about his life.

The second timeline is 2019. Told by an omniscient narrator, the story follows the discovery of a body in an unused piece of farmland that is going to become a shopping centre. This is where Banks comes in.

It takes quite a while for Standing in the Shadow’s two stories to link, more than two hundred pages in fact. At first the link is coincidental. As Banks and his detectives, mostly his detectives, start looking into the farmland murder, a connection is made to the murder of Alice Poole.

This is at the same time that Nicholas Hartley finds an in as to who killed Alice Poole. It is not a whopper of a coincidence but does require the reader to go along with Peter Robinson on this. It takes a lot more willing suspension of disbelief to swallow the immense happenstance as to where the unknown body was buried.

Just to be picky: Robinson makes a factual mistake when he talks of the murder of a Milly Dowling. The accurate last name is Dowler.

Standing in the Shadows, the 28th Inspector Banks novel by Peter Robinson is a solid read even if the solve relies too much on deus ex machina for me.

Standing in the Shadows
A Inspector Banks mystery
Peter Robinson
McClelland & Stewart 2023
359 pages

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