Playing with Fire by Peter Robinson

Peter Robinson is a British author, living in Canada. He is the author of 18 Inspector Banks mysteries. See complete list here and Robinson’s own page here. Although I haven’t read them all and although I am reading them completely out of order, and therefore am not 100% sure, it seems that most of them takes place in and around the fictional city of Eastvale in Yorkshire. On the subject of Eastvale, Peter Robinson himself says:

Eastvale is modelled on North Yorkshire towns such as Ripon and Richmond, with cobbled maket squares, rather than the kind with one main high street, like Northalleron or Thirsk. I had to make it much larger than those towns, of course, otherwise who would believe there could be that many murders?

Playing with Fire is Inspector Banks book # 14. By coincidence, the previous one I read was # 13 (check review here) and I also have # 15 checked out from the library, ready to be read.

Playing with Fire opens with….a fire. A fire eating two delapidated house-boats, inhabited by squatters. Unfortunately, two of the squatters, the artist Thomas McMahon in one of the boats and the junkie Tina in the other boat, are at home when the fire breaks out, and they die. Inspector Banks, DI Annie Cabbott and the rest of the team very soon figures out that they are dealing with arson – and murder. But why would anyone want to murder Tina – a 17 year old junkie who never hurt anyone but herself? Can her parents answer that question? And what exactly did Thomas McMahon work on as a painter, and to whom was he selling his art? While working on those questions, both Banks and Cabbott try to juggle their private lives as well. Banks has a new girlfriend, but is still agonizing over his divorce, and Cabbott just began dating the good-looking and sexy art-expert Phil Keane, who comes in handy when more fires happen and their investigations lean more and more towards the world of art, painting and artists. There are a lot of twists and turns in this Inspector Banks mystery, and it was an okay read. I loved the previous one I read, but this one was a bit slow to get going and didn’t really pick up until I was more than halfway through. So not one of the best in the series out of those I’ve read so far.