A taut stand-alone suspenser first published in Canada as Caedmon’s Song in 1990, the year Robinson’s well-regarded Inspector Banks debuted in the US in Gallows View.
Quiet Martha Browne arrives in the Yorkshire seaside town of Whitby with two aims: to gather material for a scholarly project, and to keep her distance from anyone who might be interested in cultivating her acquaintance. It seems clear that her enigmatic project has something to do with the case of Kirsten, a university student who was viciously attacked and left for dead the night before she was to return home to her wealthy parents in Brierley Coombe. And it won’t take most readers long to guess the connection between the two women. But Robinson (Close to Home, 2003, etc.) keeps up the suspense by his canny cutting between the two stories and his unnerving penetration into both the scared sense of mission that keeps Martha going and Kirsten’s transformation from shocked revulsion to suicidal depression to a determination to find out everything she can about the Student Slasher, the sick assailant who’s gone on to kill half a dozen women even less lucky than her. Only the very last pages, violent yet inconclusive, are disappointing.
For the most part, though: a brutally efficient page-turner that shows a welcome new side to Banks’s accomplished creator.