Cold is the Grave, 11th installment in the Inspector Banks series, is the novel preceding the one that made me discover Robinson, and insured that I would read more Robinson in the future: the gripping, devastating and shocking Aftermath. But after going back to the beginning and reading all inspector Banks novels, I have to say that Aftermath is indeed Robinson’s masterpiece. Some installments are just average, others are good, even very good, but none come close to Aftermath (except maybe the one coming just after, The Summer That Never Was). It seems that Robinson gets better and better, I just have to see if the tendency is confirmed with the novels following The Summer That Never Was.

In Cold is the Grave, the dynamics between the Eastvale police members are about to change. Banks, at odds with Chief Constable Riddle, his superior, is thinking about a change of scenery, since his career in Eastvale is severely compromised. But one evening, unexpectedly, Riddle calls Banks to ask him a favor. His young son had stumbled, during the day, upon a naked picture of his big sister, Riddle’s eldest child Emily, a sixteen-year-old who left home six months ago. Riddle wants Banks to find Emily, to make sure that she’s all right, and to convince her to go back home if he can.

Banks reluctantly accepts this unofficial mission, but things become more complicated, and he is soon inquiring on a murder.

The novel deceptively makes us think that Banks will this time investigate the business of pornography in London, but soon, he finds himself investigating a man named Barry Cough, probably implicated in big smuggling operations…

Cold is the Grave is a good mystery, giving the reader many red herrings before revealing the truth. If the story behind the murder is interesting, I found some of the parallel investigations (the smuggling business), a bit tedious, and it distracted me from the main line of enquiry. Not a great Robinson, therefore, but a good one. I also like to follow the characters and see how they evolve: Banks’s kids, Brian and Tracy, are all grown-up and independent, Banks is finally accepting to move on with his life without Sandra, and Annie has some issues of her own to solve…

Rating: 3,5/5