Alan Banks’ first case as detective superintendent is a 50-year-old sex crime that’s echoed by an equally appalling assault in present-day Eastvale.
“Do your own thing!” was Danny Caxton’s catchphrase back when he was a pop singer. But a more accurate trademark might have been the one dropped by his ex-wife, Carol Canning: “When the music’s over, it’s time to have some fun.” Encouraged by some recent high-visibility prosecutions of celebrities for ancient sex crimes, poet Linda Palmer has accused Caxton and a friend he summoned to his Blackpool hotel room of raping her during the summer of 1967, when Caxton was at the height of his celebrity. Still wealthy at 85, he denies every word of her story, and Banks (In the Dark Places, 2015, etc.) will have his hands full gathering evidence against him, especially since the original case files went missing long ago and DI Annie Cabbot, Banks’ right hand on Homicide and Serious Crimes, is busy investigating a much more recent outrage: the case of Mimosa Moffat, a 14-year-old girl who was tossed out of a van on Bradham Lane by three men who had raped her repeatedly, then picked up by another driver who beat and kicked her to death. The investigations of crimes nearly half a century apart will both be developed through a series of knife-sharp interrogations in which the coppers are barely less hostile or prone to anger than the suspects they’re questioning.
Despite the double plot requiring two virtually unrelated pools of characters, the thematic connections between the cold case and the red-hot case are so pervasive and powerful that the result is one of the most tightly spun tales to come from Robinson’s remorseless imagination.