Review: Abattoir Blues by Peter Robinson (4/5)

Thursday 31 July 2014

When two boys vanish under mysterious circumstances, the local community is filled with unease. Then a bloodstain is discovered in a disused World War Two hangar nearby, and a caravan belonging to one of the youths is burned to the ground. Things quickly become much more sinister.

Assigned to the case, DCI Banks and his team are baffled by the mystery laid out before them. But when a motor accident throws up a gruesome discovery, the investigation spins into a higher gear - in another direction. As Banks and his team struggle desperately to find the missing boy who holds the key to the puzzle, they find themselves in a race against time where it's their turn to become the prey...

It has been a while since I last read a DCI Banks novel but as with all the best British crime series you can pick them up at anytime and jump right into the story. Peter Robinson doesn't waste time going over previous books, certain events are alluded to but not in an overly detailed way that detracts from the story. 

The blurb doesn't give all that much away about the story and I won't say too much about it myself as this is a book you should definitely go into not knowing all that much about it. Because what you get is a mystery that will leave you guessing, questioning every character you meet and wondering just what the hell is going on. And to mention how the plot would progress would ruin that experience. Two local men go missing. A caravan belonging to one of them is burned to the ground. A bloodstain is found at an abandoned hangar. DCI Banks and his team are initially introduced to these events through a stolen tractor. Major crimes it is not but the investigation leads them to something much bigger and soon their investigation really kicks off. 

The first half of the book isn't particularly fast paced, but what Peter does best is fantastic characterisation and brilliant storytelling so the over the top scenarios you may find in other crime series (usually from the US) aren't needed. His characters aren't perfect, and all have their flaws but ultimately Banks has a pretty solid team of detectives all of whom are likeable and very easy to root for. I particularly like Annie Cabbot. Alongside that of course is the continuation of their personal lives, Banks in particular and his latest love interest. There's also a very funny comment from DCI Banks regarding ITV3.

As each of the events unfold the police and indeed the reader attempt to draw conclusions or guess what's going on from the information we are given, but this is a very complicated plot and I soon learnt not to trust anybody. There are many different pieces that the police are trying to put together in their hunt for the missing men and the truth behind some very shady circumstances. This is 'real' crime fiction. What we have here is a story that could easily happen in real life. Despite the slow start the book really goes up a notch towards the end as it nears towards an absolutely brilliant finish. A very solid instalment from Peter Robinson and a sure sign that the DCI Banks series has plenty of life left in it yet. 

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