17 de novembre de 2014

Animal cruelty leads to deeper sin

[lfpress.com, 16 november 2014]

Joan Barfoot


ABATTOIR BLUES by Peter Robinson (McClelland & Stewart, $29.95)

The world should have a few more vegetarians after readers of Peter Robinson's new crime novel finish digesting its contents.
Not that the internal workings of slaughterhouses consume many pages of Abattoir Blues, but even a relatively brief descriptions of the smells, sounds, cruelties and terrors of how animal lives end before their remains hit dinner plates is a powerful antidote to the seductive scents and tastes of steaks and pork chops.
Of course, the cruelty of humans toward other humans, not animals, is the bedrock of crime fiction, and Canadian Peter Robinson is an internationally best-selling master of the genre.
Still, in Abattoir Blues, as is often enough the case in real life, a carelessly vicious attitude toward animals signifies a carelessly vicious attitude toward inconvenient people, although that's not immediately obvious in an investigation that begins with the theft of a very expensive tractor from a small Yorkshire farm.
Robinson's longtime protagonist, Detective Chief Inspector Alan Banks, isn't quite back from a romantic getaway with his latest love interest when the call comes in from John Beddoes, formerly a London financial type and now a hobby farmer, reporting that his $100,000 tractor has gone missing during his and his wife's week-long vacation in Mexico.
First on the scene in Banks' absence is his longtime colleague Detective Inspector Annie Cabbot, who isn't pleased to be responding to such a mundane and unmurderous crime.
But naturally, murder is yet to come on the menu. Banks gets back to work just in time for a call reporting splashes of blood, but no body, in an abandoned airport hangar. Then there's a very bad accident involving a dead-animal-disposal truck.
If only because of geographic proximity, it strikes the police that the stolen tractor and the bloodied hangar may be connected.
As well, it's apparently not uncommon for both machinery and livestock -- along with perhaps other illicit cargoes -- to be smuggled out of England, for considerable profit.
The tractor owner is quick to finger the son of a neighbor as a likely thief, although the young man no longer lives nearby with his father, from whom he's semi-estranged.
Obviously, though, he has to be tracked down to the town where he's been living with a slightly older woman who loves him dearly, and her little son.
When Cabbot questions her, she learns that the woman hasn't seen or heard from him for several days -- that he is, in fact, missing.
So, it emerges, is a shady friend of his, who has sometimes called on him to help out with odd jobs in the countryside. Now suspicion turns to the pair as possible underlings in a theft and smuggling operation, or possible corpses, or both.
The young man's partner, though, insists he has become steadfast, loving and law-abiding, and Annie is inclined to believe her. She's also called on to make sure the woman is protected after she is assaulted and her little boy threatened.
And then there's the matter of the dead-animal-disposal truck accident, which reveals the vehicle was carrying something even grimmer than deadstock -- a murder which, except for a storm and a sudden swerve, would likely never have been discovered.
Annie and a younger colleague tour local abattoirs looking for an unusual murder weapon, gagging and disgusted at what they see, hear and smell.
Police lives are threatened, too, as powerful and malevolent forces who believe they've insulated themselves against criminal discovery scramble to keep themselves safe.
Robinson, a native of Yorkshire who has lived largely in Canada, has now written 22 Inspector Banks novels. With each one, series characters -- including mainstays Banks and Cabbot -- mature and change with age and experience, while new ones arrive to widen the cast and its possibilities.
What doesn't change is the quality of each complex but comprehensible, solidly written entry, as Robinson regularly reaffirms his place in the upper reaches of award-winning crime fiction.
Joan Barfoot is a novelist living in London



0 comentaris:

Publica un comentari a l'entrada

 
Google Analytics Alternative