Some Paranoia with Your Suspicions?

Some authors have to work overtime to disappoint me. Peter Robinson is one of those authors. He is so in command of his craft that he can phone it in and still produce a book twice as entertaining as the competition. He's not phoning it in on All the Colors of Darkness but I'm not surprised that this isn't among his fans' favorites. It's a dark book - what Inspector Banks book is a barrel of laughs, though? - and the themes make it even darker than most.

The central theme is paranoia. All kinds of paranoia: sexual, official, professional, political, existential, psychological, etc. It's nearly "all the colors of paranoia" at times. And what better venue for any dissection of paranoia that the spy trade? One of the things I admire most about Robinson is that he isn't afraid to have his characters be wrong and in this outing Banks anti-establishment tendencies seem to be leading him down the wrong path. Or is it the right path?

Another admirable Robinson trait on display here are his strong female characters. As thrilled as I was in the last book that Annie Cabbot handled her own problems without leaning on a man, I'm thrilled that in this book Annie is still standing on her own two feet and that Banks' female boss isn't given the cliche treatment. Winsome is coming along as a character in her own right. These are three strong, smart woman succeeding in the "man's world" of policing. How rare is that?

I have to agree with others here who feel this isn't Peter Robinson's best book. The main flaw, for me, was the terrorism portion of the story. It felt weirdly tacked on to the main story and Banks' reaction lacked the nuance I've come to expect from Robinson. He won back many of the points lost in that story with the twists and turns of Banks' romance with Sophia. There we had the kind of emotional realism that Robinson knows how to deliver better than most.

All in all, this is an entertaining mystery. Worth the time of any mystery fan and still a must for Robinson/Inspector Banks fans.

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