A case no one in Eastvale HQ wants to work—a gentleman farmer’s stolen tractor—leads to all the homicidal twists and turns beloved of Robinson’s many fans.
Returning from a holiday in Mexico, John and Patricia Beddoes find that someone’s broken into their barn—child’s play, really—and driven off a tractor worth £100,000. It may not sound like much to Eastvale CID, but Beddoes is worked up about it, and DI Annie Cabbot obligingly begins her inquiries with neighboring farmer Frank Lane, whose son, Michael, exactly the sort of tearaway Beddoes would suspect, has fortuitously vanished. So has his ne’er-do-well mate Morgan Spencer, who’s soon linked to a killing in a disused airline hanger. Several pieces of the puzzle come together with a bang when an accident sends Caleb Ross’ delivery van hurtling over a cliff and a search discloses the remains of Morgan Spencer, neatly chopped and bagged, among the parcels of dead animals headed for a meat-packing plant. Where did Spencer meet his end, at whose hand, and why? DCI Alan Banks, returning from his own holiday, is nominally in charge of the inquiry, but the mystery this time has so many strands and so many players, some of them quite memorable, that it requires the entire Eastvale team, with a particularly strong performance from DS Winsome Jackman, to chase down every complication.
Too diffuse in both its crimes and its coppers to rank among Robinson’s finest work (Children of the Revolution, 2014, etc.). But if malfeasance in Yorkshire is what you crave, you won’t hesitate, and you won’t go wrong.