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Fiction Police Procedural

Standing in the Shadows

by (author) Peter Robinson

McClelland & Stewart
Initial publish date
May 2023
Police Procedural, Traditional British, General
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    May 2023
    List Price

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The twenty-eighth and final installment of the #1 bestselling Inspector Banks series by “the grand master of the genre” (Literary Review), Peter Robinson.

In November 1980, student Nick Hartley returns from a lecture to find his house full of police officers. As he discovers that his ex-girlfriend has been found murdered in a nearby park, and her new boyfriend is missing, he realizes two things in quick succession: he is undoubtedly a suspect as he has no convincing alibi, and he has his own suspicions as to what might have happened . . .

Decades later, in November 2019, an archaeologist unearths a skeleton that turns out to be far more contemporary than the Roman remains she is seeking. Detective Superintendent Alan Banks and his team are called in, and as an investigation into the find begins, the past and the present meet with devastating consequences.

About the author

Contributor Notes

PETER ROBINSON was a beloved crime novelist whose work spanned thirty-five years. His final novel, Standing In the Shadows, is the twenty-eighth installment in the Inspector Banks series. His critically acclaimed books have won numerous awards in Britain, the United States, and Europe, and are published in translation all over the world. He also wrote two collections of short stories, and three stand-alone novels, including the #1 bestseller Before the Poison, winner of the Arthur Ellis Award, Sweden's Golden Crowbar Award, and the Dilys Award given by the Independent Mystery Booksellers Association. In 2020, Robinson was presented with the Grand Master Award by the Crime Writers of Canada. Several Inspector Banks novels have been adapted for television by ITV and have appeared on PBS. Peter, who grew up in the United Kingdom, lived with his wife, Sheila Halladay, in Toronto, Ontario, and Richmond, Yorkshire. Visit

Excerpt: Standing in the Shadows (by (author) Peter Robinson)

24 November 2019

Time was of the essence, Grace Hutchinson knew as she arrived at the dig early that bright Sunday morning in November. Soon the field she was standing in would be a shopping centre, and its priceless artefacts lost for ever under Tommy Hilfiger, BOSS, Adidas and McDonald’s. She knew that the grid the site boss, Malcolm, had assigned her was not one of the most promising. She also knew that he done this not because he didn’t like her, but because he did like her, too much, and she had turned down his request for a date. Still, she would do her best without complaining. She reminded herself what she had learned from past experience: there was no predicting what she might find under the earth, even at the far end of a neglected field by a drystone wall. The landscape would have appeared completely different in Roman times.

It was cold enough that she could see her breath, but the ground wasn’t frozen yet, and the slightly damp soil was still loose, so it didn’t prove too difficult to make a good start. The mechanical digger had cleared away the sod and topsoil during the week.

After she had worked for a while, Grace leaned on her spade to catch her breath and felt the cold breeze ruffle her hair and chill the sweat on her brow. She looked out over the fields towards the traffic on the A1, almost a mile away to the east. Before work was due to begin on the giant new shopping centre and access roads, the archaeologists were allowed their turn. Highways England, along with the construction company, had managed to negotiate a deal for the Northern Archaeological Associates to get in there first and see what they could find.

An earlier dig, further up the A1, had yielded a great deal of information about the Roman occupation of the north. People already knew quite a lot about settlements at Catterick and Bainesse, and they knew that the A1 followed the old Roman road, Dere Street, from York up to Hadrian’s Wall. But they’d had no idea what a wealth of pottery, leather shoes, bracelets, rings and human remains lay beneath the earth, not to mention traces of old boundaries and buildings, walls, bridges and so on. Grace had been on that dig. She remembered well the surge of excitement at each new discovery – unusual beads indicating trade with the Balkans, Spain and North Africa, an amphora with an exotic design, a discarded spur or marble figurine – after hours of hard work and boring sieving or brushing. They had found evidence of Iron Age presence, too – coins and coin-making facilities – so the meeting of the modern A1, running north and south, and the A66, running east and west, had clearly been an important centre of commerce and settlement for many centuries.

Only now were the experts beginning to piece things together. That was why this dig was important. It lay on the eastern outskirts of Eastvale, a few miles south of the Scotch Corner dig, over which the new motorway access roads now ran, and all the signs and preliminary scans suggested this one might also provide a wealth of riches. But not Grace’s particular grid, she thought.

Grace tucked her hair behind her ears and got back to work again, but before she had dug much further down, her shovel scraped against something more solid than the soil. She stopped immediately. At about three feet, she was nowhere near deep enough for Roman remains, but something was clearly there, blocking her way, just beneath the earth. She picked up her trowel and light brush and carefully stepped into the trench. Then she knelt and gently scooped soil away with her trowel, using the brush with her other hand. It was slow and painstaking work, but before long she came to a halt, certain of what she had found, even before the whole object had been uncovered. She stood up, feeling a little shaky, and called out to Malcolm. He came striding over the field in that authoritative male way he had and peered sternly over the lip of the trench at what she had partially unearthed.

‘Bloody hell,’ he said. ‘What have you gone and done now?’

Grace shook her head. ‘What should we do?’

‘Leave it,’ Malcolm said. ‘You’ve hardly disturbed it any more than you needed to see what it is. Best stop now and call the police.’

Grace joined him up on the edge of the hole and they bothstared down at what was clearly a human skull.

Editorial Reviews

Praise for Peter Robinson and Standing in the Shadows
A Globe and Mail Bestseller

"'Let me start at the beginning,' is the last line of the late, great Peter Robinson’s 28th Inspector Alan Banks novel, and it really does tie up the ends of one of crime fiction’s finest series. [Robinson's] finest pages are the careful hunt for the clues to uncover motives and histories and dead bodies that no one missed or bothered to report. That’s what Standing in the Shadows does to perfection as he moves back and forward in time and place right to the final beginning at the beginning. This is a great finale to a superb series." —The Globe and Mail

“[O]ne of the finest police procedural writers around. . . . [Standing in the Shadows] is as narratively rich and surprising as Robinson’s best work. Knowing it’s his last makes the reading bittersweet.”New York Times Book Review

"Readers will love getting a fascinating primer in both modern forensics and archaeological techniques. . . . As usual, Banks' steadfast, multifaceted character holds his team and the story itself together. . . . The ending, in which the two narratives join, is a stunner." —Booklist
"As always in the Banks novels, readers will enjoy the details of pop culture and social history. This is an intelligent and satisfying procedural." —Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Peter Robinson’s new novel is a publishing event. . . . The novel feels elegiac. . . . Robinson’s plots were always superb and this final novel is a haunting tribute to a fine writer.” —The Sunday Times

"It is bittersweet to crack open the 28th, and final, Inspector Banks novel. The mighty Peter Robinson, who died last year, created one of the most convivial, compelling detectives in Alan Banks: compassionate, intelligent, and music-loving, he was the sort of man you wanted to spend time with. Standing in the Shadows is a worthy addition to the Banks canon. . . . It is a pleasure to be back in Banks’s company, whether it’s watching him with his friends and colleagues, listening to his thoughts on music or waiting for his intuition to kick in. Robinson was an author at the top of his game, and Banks a detective at the top of his. Both will be sorely missed by their readers.” —The Guardian
"[An] intriguing Sherlock Holmes-type mystery." —Buzzfeed

"A fascinating mystery. . . . Standing in the Shadows delivers a true whodunit mystery packed with details. When the dust settles, readers will find a satisfying ending that ties up all the loose ends."Novels Alive
"Another thrilling ride with Inspector Banks and his crew. . . . Fans of the series will love this one."Red Carpet Crash

"Standing in the Shadows is textbook Robinson, expertly conceived and suspenseful from start to finish. . . . One of the best mystery/thriller series in the business." —Book Reporter
"A serpentine, multilayered and intricate novel. . . . Death stands powerless before Robinson's legacy, which will endure for longtime admirers who will recapture the magic via rereading and for those lucky souls who have yet to discover his achievements." —Free-Lance Star
“Devoted to detail, [Robinson] excelled at forging storylines that rivet the reader, characters whose experiences include trials as well as triumphs, and precise prose that confirm his bona fides as a master stylist. . . . Standing in the Shadows represents the climactic close of his career.” —Richmond Times-Dispatch
“Peter Robinson’s superior plotting skills, strong social conscience, palpable sense of place, and, not least, voracious love of music put him in the pantheon of contemporary British crime writers. . . . A lovely way to remember Banks and his creator, who leaves behind a legacy of novels that explore the thorniest regions of the heart, mind, and soul.” —Air Mail

Praise for Peter Robinson and the Inspector Banks series

“The best series now on the market. Try one and tell me I’m wrong.” —Stephen King

“Peter Robinson writes with compassion, with depth, with the assurance of a writer at the top of his game." —Louise Penny, author of the #1 New York Times bestseller The Long Way Home
“Peter Robinson is a master. . ." —Tess Gerritsen, New York Times-bestselling author of Die Again