Merrimon Book Reviews

Title page of the first quarto of Othello, published 1622

MI-5, often called Spooks, a popular UK television program

The Sandbaggers:
British television drama series about men and women on the front lines of the Cold War. Set contemporaneously with its original broadcast on ITV in 1978 and 1980

Headquarters of MI-5.  Thames House's Millbank entrance, Westminster, London.
MI-5 is roughly the equivalent in the US to the FBI and MI-6 to the CIA.

From Merrimon Book Reviews
All the Colors of Darkness
All the Colors of Darkness by Peter Robinson

Mass Market Paperback
by Peter Robinson

Are first appearances what they seem?
Detective Chief Inspector Alan Banks is on vacation with his new girlfriend Sophia when Detective Inspector Annie Cabot is dispatched to Hindswell Woods to investigate an apparent suicide in a remote beautiful landscape.  Although no immediate clues reveal any foul play, further investigation into the life of Mark G. Hardcastle puts a kink into the case when routine inquiries lead to the badly beaten body of Laurence Silbert of Castleview Heights, one of the more posh areas of town.  With the case now in need of a more delicate handling of media coverage, DCI Banks returns from his vacation, at the very least, to have the appearance of a more senior officer on the case.  Or is there more to this than meets the eye?  At first glance, the murders seem to be a lover's tiff turned violent into a murder-suicide.  When Detective Superintendent Catherine Gervaise puts on the pressure to close the case, Alan Banks will not be stopped in his inquiries, especially not when a hint from the victim's mother and a hint of possible secret service involvement start his mind rolling.  Alan Banks has a reputation for getting to the truth.  A clue from Othello, a play being staged at the theatre where Mark worked, starts Banks thinking about a possible third party involvement, but along the way, the interference of the intelligence services complicates the case in a way that puts Banks and all those close to him in danger.

Peter Robinson's ALL THE COLORS OF DARKNESS presents a case that will thrill lovers of British espionage drama with its echoes of MI-5, The Sandbaggers and John Le Carre.  Not only does he cite these references but fans of MI-5 will notice specific scenes which pay homage to the series, providing a sense of underlying subtle humor and heightened eerieness.  How wonderful to see the perspective of the local police in these scenes!   Alan Bank's thoughts about the changing face of the Seceret Intelligence Service as it moves from the days of the Cold War and gentlemen agents to today's world add a depth to ALL THE COLORS OF DARKNESS that makes the espionage trail more than just a historical catalogue of espionage titles.  For readers unfamiliar with these dramas, some of the cleverness of Peter Robinson's new work will not be immediately available upon first reading but for British fans, this aspect of the investigtion is a pure delight!  Theatre buffs will also appreciate the more and subtle references to Othello that undergird this mystery.

ALL THE COLORS OF DARKNESS looks into the darker sides of human jealousy, not just between individuals but between organizations.  Alan Banks seeks out the truth, following every possible complication, with a passion that has him facing down a suspect even when his theory seems a lost cause, even when his own life may be in danger.  ALL THE COLORS OF DARKNESS will appeal to readers looking for a complex mystery that will challenge with all its intersecting aspects.  Peter Robinson creates several threads that keep the reader guessing until the haunting final page and beyond.  Are things what they really seem?  ALL THE COLORS OF DARKNESS will appeal to readers who like not just the solving of a crime, but a work that provokes with its tantalizing, unanswered questions.

ALL THE COLORS OF DARKNESS works as a stand-alone to readers new to his Alan Banks series more than some of his other works such as FRIEND OF THE DEVIL.  However, as a growing fan of Peter Robinson's novels, I notice that each additional one I read adds another layer of enjoyment for an individual book and the series as a whole.  Peter Robinson fans will appreciate the ongoing development of the relationship between Alan Banks and Annie Cabot as well as the new difficulties the case brings to the personal relationships of the officers.  The character of
Detective Superintendent Catherine Gervaise provides some very nice wrinkles indeed to the portrait of the superior clamping down on her subordinates and attempting to clear the case load.  Although this case brings a new facet to the the cases now brought before the local police and Alan Banks specifically that might throw readers expecting a work more closely tied to Bank's typical cases, other fans will appreciate ALL THE COLORS OF DARKNESS as a wonderful addition to Peter Robinson's ability to create a complex case that delves into difficult nuances and subcurrents as seemingly unrelated clues converge.  For American fans of Peter Robinson who also love British espionage television like myself, ALL THE COLORS OF DARKNESS is a special treat.  ALL THE COLORS OF DARKNESS reaffirms Peter Robinson's clever skill and originality in his ability to both play and diverge from known classics, adding a new unsettling perspective in the solving of crime in today's world. 

Publisher: William Morrow (February 2009); Mass Market Paperback: Harper (February 23, 2010) 


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