Strange Affair is the 15th installment in the inspector Banks novels. This series has its ups and downs. It started as a pleasant new detective series with Gallows View, and became a more serious rival to the best mystery series over the years. It culminated, in my opinion, with Aftermath, a masterpiece of suspense and good storytelling. One of the strengths of Robinson’s novels, in my opinion, is the habit he developed to present alternate point of views, mostly Banks’s and DI Annie Cabbot’s, in small chapters often ending in cliffhangers, as they investigate different crimes or different sides of the same crime…

After Aftermath, Robinson has written very good installments (The Summer That Never Was), and some not so convincing or involving, like Strange Affair. Strange Affair starts with a very depressed inspector Banks: he never completely recovered after the fire that destroyed his cottage and almost killed him. One phone call from Roy, his estranged brother, worries him: Roy, a businessman who has been involved in shady deals in the past, fears for his life. Banks goes to London after being unable to call him back but Roy has vanished…

At the same time, a young woman is found in car on a roadside, murdered. In her pocket, the police finds Banks’s old address. DI Annie Cabbot, in charge of the case, is looking for Banks, who is in turn looking for his brother, and discovering that there is a lot more to Roy that he thought, and that he will have to revise his misconceptions. Soon, it becomes obvious that the two cases are linked…

Strange Affair starts out strongly, with alternate chapters focusing on Annie or Banks, but after a while, when the two affairs merge, the momentum is lost, and the investigation drags on a bit. I think the problem in this novel is one of rhythm. Robinson was unable to keep up the pace until the end, and despite a twist to the story, most of what the mystery is about becomes quite predictable.

Definitely not one of the best inspector Banks novels, but still interesting, as it delves deeper into the character of Banks, his past, and his difficult relationships with his brother and his parents…

Rating: 3,5/5