Sleeping in the Ground
DCI Banks #24
Hodder & Stoughton
The thrilling twenty-fourth instalment in Peter Robinson’s Number One bestselling Banks Series.
A shocking mass murder occurs at a wedding in a small Dales church and a huge manhunt follows. Eventually, the shooter is run to ground and things take their inevitable course.
But Banks is plagued with doubts as to exactly what happened outside the church that day, and why. Struggling with the death of his first serious girlfriend and the return of profiler Jenny Fuller into his life, Banks feels the need to dig deeper into the murders, and as he does so, he uncovers forensic and psychological puzzles that lead him to the past secrets that might just provide the answers he is looking for.
When the surprising truth becomes clear, it is almost too late.
I applaud Peter Robinson on his opening chapter – he has managed to put humanness, individuals, people… back into the narrative of mass murders, thrill/spree killings. Too often we view the landscape with the lens of a camera – we “see” reporting’s, documenting of such real life atrocities without emotion, as if the deaths and maiming are without consequence, without pain or effect on others. “If the incident was a scene in a film, it would have looked beautiful. The violence would have taken place in elegantly choreographed silence and slow motion…but the way Terry Gilchrist saw it – and he was there –it was as swift as it was brutal…a crack…a dull thud, then a patch of blood spread over the bride’s chest. Her body arched… blood soaked white chiffon and lace, her mouth open, the scream forever struck in her throat…it was all finished in less than a minute. One of the fallen guests was moaning with pain. Nearby, a bridesmaid sat propped up against a gravestone crying, her hands pressed to her bloody midriff where something wet and shiny rested in her lap…” chapter 1
The introduction is bloody, brutal and honest. You cannot help but be affected by the sufferings here. Consequences are felt.
But don’t be put off by the graphic violence in this chapter – it serves it purpose well – it reminds us that people are suffering, it connects the reader with the brutal event and the survivors and the first chapter is the only truly gruesome scene in the book. We read on to discover the motivation of the villain, we discover the long reaching effects of the crime, the effects on those attending the wedding – injured or not and the effects on those who have to deal with these types of situations – the medics, doctors, police… It is a shocking reminder that these type of events happen to real people, not to two dimensional characters on a screen.
Further the plot is nuanced with Banks’s personal experience of death and mourning (of a once close friend) as he reflects on life, death and love. Consequences of actions/reactions to events in the past are also explored in a meaningful way. This is a multi-layered narrative.
This is the twenty-fourth book in the DCI Banks series but it can easily be read as a standalone. The events that explode on the opening pages are familiar to all, the unravelling of the crime is an engaging and compelling reading.