Friend of the Devil by Peter Robinson
William Morrow, 2008 (ARE)
Mystery; 372 pgs
Rating: (Very Good)
First Sentence: She might have been staring out to sea, at the blurred line where the gray water meets the gray sky.
Reason for Reading: I requested to preview this book through Harper Collins First Look Program. It sounded like something I would enjoy reading. This is my second selection for the Unread Authors Challenge.
Comments: I love it when I discover an author whose book I am reading makes me want to rush out and buy every single book the author has written. From the very beginning, I was swept up into Robinson’s world, feeling very much like I was in the thick of the investigations into two brutal murders. One being the murder of a paraplegic woman whose throat had been slit and was left to bleed to death out on a cliff overlooking the sea. The second murder involved the vicious rape and murder of a young college student who only that night had been out clubbing with her friends.
Detective Annie Cabbot and her team in Whitby must sift through the past to uncover a motive of why someone would want to kill Karen Drew, a woman confined to a wheelchair and unable to communicate. The victim herself is not at first who she appears to be. Meanwhile, Detective Chief Inspector Alan Banks back in Eastvale, North Yorkshire leads the investigation into the death of nineteen-year-old Hayley Daniels, digging deeper into her life and friendships. The two cases could not be more different, and yet, when another body is discovered not far from where Hayley Daniels had been raped and murdered, there are too many coincidences to ignore.
As the sort of series reader who prefers to read series books in order, I always feel like I am missing a little something by way of back story when I start a series in the middle, or in the case, with the most recent book published (or soon to be as the case may be). That isn’t to say that Peter Robinson did not fill in the blanks—he certainly did do that. I think anyone who starts with this book will feel no sense of loss in that regard, although if you are like me, you will want to go back and dig a little deeper.
I was quite charmed by the character of Alan Banks, and enjoyed reading about him in action. He always seemed to have a handle on the situation even when at loose ends. He was generally calm and obviously intelligent and skilled at his job. His need to relax to music was something I could relate to. More than once I have turned up the radio on my way home after an especially difficult day at work, letting the music wash over me. I quickly related to Annie Cabbot, obviously talented in her field, but also someone that was struggling with personal issues that were a result of her own insecurities and past hurts. I wished I could reach through the pages and give her a big hug on a couple of occasions. There were several other, more minor characters that were easy to like, and who I enjoyed getting to know. I look forward to going back and getting to know them even better in the earlier books of the series.
Friend of a Devil is riveting and suspenseful novel that only becomes more interesting with each turned page. Not only did I feel like I was along for the ride in the investigations, but Mr. Robinson also made me feel right at home both on the seaside in Whitby and in the town of Eastvale. His use of pop culture and ability to step into the psyche of his characters made it all the more alive in my mind. This is a very well written mystery novel, and I am definitely hooked.
Favorite Part: The author did an excellent job of balancing the main mystery story line with the personal side stories. I got to know many of the characters very well as I read the novel and came to care about them. The crime investigations themselves were fascinating to see unfold. I guessed one major piece of the puzzle about half way through, the final piece, but that did not hurt my enjoyment of the novel at all. It rarely does. How it all comes together is what I am drawn to the most.
Visit the author's website for more information about his books.
Miscellaneous: I hesitated before posting this review now. The book will not be released until after the first of the year, but two reasons compelled me to do so. The main one being that it’s been awhile since I last posted an actual book review and the other simply because I can’t keep mum about this great book. You may not be able to rush out and read this one, but you can perhaps try some of the earlier books in the series.
The cover above is not the same one one my copy. I actually like the cover I have better, but I could not find it online to share with you.