Innocent Graves by Peter Robinson
Peter Robinson is a Canadian crime writer who was born in Armley, Leeds, England on 17 March 1950. Peter graduated with Honours in English Literature at the University of Leeds, England. He then emigrated to Canada in 1974 to continue his studies and took his MA in English and Creative Writing at the University of Windsor, Ontario, Canada. The University of Windsor is a public comprehensive and research university and is Canada’s southernmost university. Joyce Carol Oates was Peter’s tutor. Peter then achieved a PhD in English at York University in Toronto.
Peter is best known for his crime novels set in the series of novels set in the fictional English Yorkshire town of Eastvale featuring Inspector Alan Banks. He has also published a number of other novels and short stories as well as some poems and two articles on writing. His books have been translated into fifteen languages.
Peter divides his time between the Beaches area of Toronto and Richmond, North Yorkshire with his wife, attorney Sheila Halladay. He also teaches crime writing at the University of Toronto’s School of Continuing Studies. He has taught at a number of Toronto colleges and served as Writer-in-Residence at the University of Windsor for the period 1992-93.
I was lucky enough recently to attend one of his courses in Inverness, Scotland. He is a very generous tutor and there is no doubt that I learned a lot. The most important thing was probably that Peter does not believe in writer’s block and considers it a sign of laziness! However, when he read some of my work, and was encouraging about passages from the first draft of my own first novel, I was delighted. He is an inspiring man. Peter’s novels have won numerous awards in Britain, the USA, Canada and Europe, and are published in translation all over the world.
Innocent Graves is the first of his novels I have read. It is the eighth novel in Peter’s critically acclaimed Inspector Alan Banks series. The story follows the investigation into the murder of a teenage girl. It seems particularly shocking as it happens in a quiet Yorkshire village, Eastvale. The girl is Deborah Harrison who is found one foggy night in the churchyard behind St Mary’s, strangled with the strap of her school satchel. It transpires that Deborah was no typical sixteen-year-old. Her father was a powerful financier who works in the highest echelons of industry, defence and classified information. Also, Deborah had secrets of her own.
Since Deborah was the daughter of a wealthy and influential man there is additional pressure to solve this case promptly. A new detective inspector, Barry Stott, gets a lead early on and follows it up to investigate the suspected killer. However, there are certainly other suspects and factors involved in this homicide and DCI Banks is not ready to pin the rap on the first suspect.
Rebecca, the vicar’s wife, finds Deborah’s body while wandering around a foggy cemetery, hoisting her glass of pinot noir and visiting the angel which sits on top of a tomb! That would be bad enough if she were sober, never mind in an inebriated state. It transpires that the day before, Deborah and her friend Megan are walking home in the fog. They part ways near a bridge and that is where Deborah took a shortcut home through the cemetery. That was the last time Deborah was seen alive.
This is an exciting book and Peter Robinson delivers with an ending you will not work out until the last pages. I highly recommend Innocent Graves. It is an thrilling piece of crime fiction.