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Review: All the Colours of Darkness
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Publisher: Hodder Hb (August 7, 2008)
ISBN-10: 1845799941
ISBN-13: 978-1845799946

A couple of disclaimers: I’ve never read any of the previous 18 Chief Inspector Banks novels and I’m not a big fan of crime novels although I have read the genre occasionally and found it to be enjoyable.

This is not the case here. Drowned in detail would be the most obvious point to make. The author obviously has a large CD collection and considers music an important part of what makes up a character, mood, setting, and anything else to which he can link it. I found this all very disappointing as Robinson is an author of mutli-award winning novels and short stories. Could this book be a hiccup or am I simply not seeing what the major crime literary organisations see?

A lovers spat that gets out of hand and results in a murder-suicide, attempts to get all mysterious as it’s wrapped up in the shadows of international espionage, terrorism, and the British Secret Intelligence Services. The plot is slow and convoluted with very little encouragement to the reader to turn the page.

The need to describe every scene in minute detail becomes boring and most indoor settings are tied into a musical offering as if that will help the reader better connect with the lame plot. The story meanders through the efforts of Inspector Banks and DI Annie Cabbot as they attempt to prove far-fetched leaps of imagination while they continue with their very average mundane lives. Lots of red herrings are left around the place and obvious questions are left unasked. The author also seems to have a bad habit of showing us a detailed scene and then confirming we understood it by telling us the same thing all over again at the end.

Occasional references back to things that happened in earlier books, makes this less of a stand-alone tale as the reader is left with unanswered questions about character and motivation. The author also makes his feelings plain on things ranging from past and present governments to drink driving. Worse still are the typos littered through the book; missing words here and there further detract from the work. The cover work by Michal Affanasowicz/Trevillion Images is exceptional though.

But the plot never really gets anywhere, winding up with no real solution that the characters spend the entire book searching for; a case of the little man being left in the dark by the powers that be. Not particularly satisfying.

I read a story to suspend my belief and be entertained – this offering did neither.

In the end, this is not a work of horror or dark fiction; not even disturbing in its content. International terror and the way government intelligence services work is very disturbing, but that isn’t conveyed here, or rather it’s drowned in the way it’s presented. The images are over explained, over shown, and the descriptions of locations are done in such a travel brochure manner I’m sure I could walk the same path as the character and pick out all the same landmarks – but I’m guessing I’d have more emotion tied to them.