DS Alan Banks is snapped out of mourning his long-ago first love by a particularly nasty murder spree that interrupts the nuptials at St. Mary’s Church.
Murder waits on no copper, and Banks (When the Music’s Over, 2016, etc.) must put aside his grief over Emily Hargreaves’ loss to cancer as he seeks the person who’s opened fire on the wedding party of Laura Tindall and Benjamin Kemp. The gunman, equipped with an AR15, kills the bride, her maid of honor, and the father of the groom outright; their wounds neglected by protocols that keep medical personnel from the scene until an armed response team can secure it, the groom and another bridesmaid soon succumb as well, raising the toll to five dead and four wounded, one of them DS Winsome Jackman. A providential witness supplies enough information to send Banks and DI Annie Cabbot, whose father, bohemian artist Ray Cabbot, is crashing with Banks while he looks for new digs, to retired dentist Martin Edgeworth, who seems to tick every box for the shooter—owning an AR15, driving a black RAV4, belonging to a gun club, and shot to death himself. But pathologist Dr. Glendenning’s warning that Edgeworth’s obvious suicide may actually be murder sends the investigation back to square one, with one additional caveat: the killer is no temperamental hothead but someone who’s clearly been planning this massacre for a long time. The usual patient, thorough investigation takes a predictable turn awry when rookie DC Geraldine Masterson ignores Banks’ orders and confronts the killer in the hope of saving still another victim—a confrontation whose outcome Robinson’s willingness to kill off cast members like Emily Hargreaves leaves in serious doubt.
Robinson’s interrogations, many of them conducted in pubs, have the rare quality of steadily illuminating and thickening both the speakers and their subjects. The result is a slow-burning intensity that deepens from beginning to end.