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Playing With Fire
ISBN 0771076061 / 9780771076060 / 0-7710-7606-1
Publisher McClelland & Stewart
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Playing with Fire is a typical Peter Robinson book. And if that sounds like damning with faint praise, it's anything but. Since Gallows View in 1987, Robinson has been turning out one of the most assured and entertaining series of crime novels in the genre, with his doughty Inspector Alan Banks one of the most solidly drawn of protagonists.
But perhaps the real reason behind the considerable success of the books is that unerring combination of brilliantly turned plots and wonderfully evoked locales: the Yorkshire Dales have proved a very fertile stamping ground for Robinson's irresistible brand of restrained mayhem.
Banks is handed his most piquant problem in Playing with Fire, and the rural backdrop is once again a key player in the action. On a chill winter's morning, a fire is found to have consumed two narrow boats on the Eastvale canal. Banks and his associate DI Annie Cabbot find themselves examining some grisly remnants: charred bodies found on the remains of the two boats. But who are the victims of what appears to be a calculated act of murder? An enigmatic artist with few friends? A young couple who spent most of their time stoned on illegal substances? Banks and Cabbot quickly find themselves with a host of possible perpetrators on their hands, from the father of the young girl who died in the attack to a duplicitous art dealer. But the heat is turned on for Banks--literally--when the murderous arsonist gets to work again.
As in the seminal In a Dry Season, Robinson doesn't shirk from tackling some pretty convoluted plotting, but any confusion the reader is plunged into is very satisfyingly resolved, and Robinson's already strong reputation will grow with this book. --Barry Forshaw [via]