Penzler Pick, October 2001:
The mystery novels of Peter Robinson (Aftermath
is his 12th) are of increasing power and intensified intelligence. It's a dirty little secret of the crime-fiction genre that many of its writers simply spin their wheels, repeating over and over those old tricks which always have worked for them. They coast on past successes and repeat the formula hoping, if not assuming, that their fans won't notice.
Writers like Robinson, however, actually seem to grow in front of our eyes, delivering books of greater complexity each time. His previous two books, Cold Is the Grave and In a Dry Season, were novels of character and novels of crime, equally, and now Aftermath is here to reward his fans and new readers alike.
Like recent books by fellow English writers Reginald Hill, Val McDermid, and Stephen Booth, Aftermath centers upon a grim case in which attractive young girls have disappeared, victims of a cunning psychotic killer whose identity is well concealed behind a façade of respectability. Detective Chief Inspector Alan Banks of the Yorkshire Police is in charge of the case, but he's also got unavoidable personal distractions. His separated wife, Sandra, is pregnant by her lover, Sean, and wanting the divorce he's been dragging his heels over.
There is nothing cozy about the kind of English mysteries written by Peter Robinson, even if they do take place where picturesque rural villages make up the landscape. He's not afraid of gore or deviance, of violence, or of any of the baser emotions, and it's a raw old world behind the hedgerows and cottage walls. If Aftermath is your first taste of his tough-tender sensibility, it won't be surprising if you soon are hooked on the work of one of today's most accomplished practitioners of detective fiction. --Otto Penzler
From Publishers Weekly
Dark, darker, darkest endless shades of ebony seem to envelop Acting Det. Superintendent Alan Banks in this grim, compelling, character-driven mystery (after 2000's Cold Is the Grave). As the head of the North Yorkshire half of a two-county joint task force, Banks is helping look into the disappearances of five young girls. As the title implies, the answer comes early on in an explosive scene where the girls' grisly fate is discovered. But Banks is left with the aftermath: a cop facing possible charges for excessive force, a woman who may be a victim or may be guilty of monstrous crimes, an "extra" body and one that isn't where it ought to be. Banks also faces plenty of personal challenges as his wife, Sandra, still pressing for divorce, finds a new way to shock him, while sometime girlfriend and colleague, Annie Cabbot, seeks to change their relationship. Robinson's never tackled darker themes: child abuse, sexual abuse, domestic violence, torture and murder. And while he never indulges in needlessly graphic descriptions, it is still horrific stuff. Introspective, thoughtful and plagued by uncertainties, Banks battles to maintain focus as the investigation plods on. As always, the author scrupulously details the police work, from the forensics to the efforts of a consultant psychologist (i.e., a profiler), who delves into a past case that may be related. A proven master of the British police procedural, Robinson should find a large audience for this gripping, psychologically astute tale. Agent, Dominick Abel. (Oct. 9)Forecast: Stronger than Cold Is the Grave, which won the Anthony and the Ellis awards, this novel stands to rack up even bigger sales, fueled by a five-city author tour and 25-city national radio campaign.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.