Many Rivers to Cross

A young boy is found dead, his body discarded in a large rolling trash can behind an elderly widow’s home in a housing estate. With no identification on him, no witnesses, and no one having reported the boy missing, Detective Superintendent Alan Banks and his team face an arduous task.

Security cameras show the Middle Eastern boy getting off a bus, and within 24 hours, he’s dead. No one admits to having seen him. They’re sure because they don’t see many minorities in the area–something the locals aren’t shy about telling the detectives. The team struggles to identify the boy no one seems to care about but them, and tensions rise when they determine he was stabbed elsewhere, and his body dumped.

While the local press hounds the police about the stabbing, the national media seize the larger story of the immigration issues, and the boy’s image is circulated. Yet no one claims him.

In a condemned neighborhood not far from where the boy’s body was discovered, an aging heroin addict is found dead of an overdose. Banks questions whether it’s a tragic overdose or something darker, once he discovers the man’s home may have been used as a drugs distribution point–a county line: “County lines had fast become the Amazon Prime of drug supply, ousting a number of smaller independent retailers.”

Banks believes he may have a brake in his case when he finds a connection between his investigation and a local real estate developer.

Work isn’t the only place Banks is troubled about his lack of information. A friend’s increasingly precarious situation, the secrets of her past, has Banks worried.

As tentacles of the new supply lines reach further into rural communities, the known dealers the regional drug squad investigates are being replaced by a new adversary­­–an Albanian drug cartel with no compunction in removing competition or using murder to send a message.

The investigation becomes an intricate road map of drugs, class warfare, racism, human trafficking and murder. Banks and his team must tread carefully through the emotionally-charged–and dangerous–investigation.

Many Rivers to Cross, Peter Robinson’s 26th novel featuring DCI Alan Banks, is superb. When it comes to police procedurals, Peter Robinson does it best. As soon as Banks and his Eastvale team solve one case, we can’t help but selfishly demand another.