Detective Chief Inspector Banks is currently in trouble for insubordination, not an unusual occurrence. However, this time was much worse because he actually punched his boss, Jimmy Riddle. Banks was suspended at first, but the powers that be forced Riddle to reinstate him. Since then Riddle has made sure Banks was limited to the drudgery of desk duty and other mundane tasks. Now Riddle has a new kind of punishment in mind. He appoints Banks to lead the investigation of a fifty year old murder that he doesn’t think can be solved.
To complicate matters, Riddle assigns Banks to work with the local DS, Annie Cabot, an officer with a reputation as a troublemaker. Cabot took the position in a small town force where there is little activity because it was made clear to her she would not be in line for promotion any time soon. She has been branded a loner who doesn’t work well with others on the force. What Riddle doesn’t expect is that once Banks sinks his teeth in, he will do everything in his power to uncover the truth. Not only that, it turns out he and Cabot work well together, both on and off duty.
While this book is part of the Inspector Banks series, there is more to it than a straightforward detective story. The victim was discovered when a drought caused a reservoir to dry up, exposing a village which had been evacuated and flooded in the early 1950s. The woman was not buried by the flood, though; she was murdered and placed under a stone slab. Banks 1st task is to figure out when the body was buried before he can begin to find out why she was murdered.
Robinson’s novel switches back and forth between World War II, when the village was last occupied, and the present day investigation. Telling the story this way makes the mystery more suspenseful, and Robinson is able to make a very cold police case have relevance and urgency for the characters today; and I found the description of life during the war to be fascinating. This is my favorite book in the Inspector Banks series, although I would recommend all of them. The series has also been recently made into a television series that was shown on WUNCTV in January. Hopefully, they will repeat it soon!