Peter Robinson writes straight-up procedural murder mysteries set, from what I can tell, largely in Yorkshire. His detective, Alan Banks, veers in the direction of the hard-drinking, disillusioned cop with a romantic longing for justice and the occasional attractive female. But I never got the sense that Banks was much more than a set of qualifications for the job of “murder mystery detective,” and the galaxy of surrounding characters — the pert female DCI, the annoying cloddish sergeant — rotate mechanically through the narrative, delivering bits of information as needed but otherwise forgettable.
In Final Account the plotting’s fine: accountant has his head blown off in his garage; turns out he had another fun-loving identity; furthermore he was laundering money for a corrupt Caribbean strong man; bang. (And I still haven’t given everything away.) Pacing OK, local color only average. I think the big problem is that Robinson’s writing is workmanlike, nothing more. He goes through the motions with the landscape and the colorful Yorkshire characters and the sinister emotional dynamics of the victim’s family, but it all failed to move me.
If I remember correctly, the New York Times restaurant reviewers used to be able to rate a restaurant “Acceptable,” or possibly “Adequate,” which seemed more damning than the current lowest rating of “Fair.” That’s pretty much where I leave Robinson. I finished the book — if I were in the corresponding restaurant and hungry, I would have finished the meal — but I won’t be going back for more.