A corpse deposited in a crashed car clearly marked POLICE AWARE kicks off DCI Alan Banks’ 25th case.
Builder John Kelly drove his van away from the road accident at Belderfell Pass, but Trevor and Nancy Vernon had to leave their undriveable car behind. Imagine their surprise and outrage when a young woman’s body turns up behind its wheel the following week. It’s pretty clear to Banks and his Homicide and Serious Crimes Team (Sleeping in the Ground, 2017, etc.) that Eastvale College student Adrienne Munro choked to death in her own vomit elsewhere after an overdose of sleeping pills. But nothing else is clear. In fact, when DI Annie Cabbot is called to the spot on Tetchley Moor where semiretired banker Laurence Hadfield fell or was pushed to his death in a deep gulley, the bonds between the two deaths seem more baffling than illuminating. The plot thickens, but it doesn’t begin to take logical shape until Banks’ friend DCI Ken Blackstone, of the West Yorkshire Homicide and Major Inquiry Team, brings a third corpse to their attention: that of Sarah Chen, a University of Leeds student found beaten to death in an abandoned shack. The deaths of Adrienne Munro and Sarah Chen, both of whom lied about coming into substantial sums of money shortly before they died, seem clearly linked. But what connects either of these promising young women, their lives cut pitifully short, to the well-heeled banker whose own son acknowledges that he had hundreds, perhaps thousands, of enemies?
The answers to these questions aren’t exactly surprising, but they’re eminently logical and all too depressing. And if the solution depends on good luck and good timing rather than mental prowess, that’s business as usual for Robinson’s all-too-human coppers.