DCI Alan Banks and his and his colleague, DI Annie Cabbot, are puzzled at the apparent murder-suicide of Mark Hardcastle and his lover, the wealthy and sophisticated Laurence Silbert. Mark’s body has been found hanging from a tree in Hindswell woods, violent smatterings of blood plastered all over his chest. The only witness is the owner of the local hardware store, who testifies that Mark came in looking for some rope and smelling strongly of whisky,
appearing oddly calm and subdued.
DS Gervaise, head of Eastvale Constabulary, immediately concludes that it's an open-and-shut case
- merely a lovers' tiff gone bad because “people don’t beat their lovers to death, then hang themselves for no reason.” Mark has to be the culprit, and the sheer frenzied violence of the crime scene
at Silbert‘s house, blood and brains splattered everywhere, can only mean one thing: it started with an argument
that turned into a crime of passion distinguished by extreme violence and overwhelming remorse.
Banks and Cabbot, however, aren't convinced. Both are positive there is something more to this case than meets the eye. Annie, in particular,
senses something odd about local drama teacher Derek Wyman and his relationship with Mark. After talking to the members of Mark’s theatre company, the detectives learn that Mark
was a bit edgy lately, especially after he took a trip to London with Derek. Wyman is quick to let them know that he is totally heterosexual, a happily married man with children, and
that he and Mark were nothing more than amicable colleagues with a shared interest in theatre and film.
A surprise revelation from Laurence’s octogenarian mother, Edwina Silbert, sends the investigation spiraling in a new direction.
The shock that Laurence Silbert is not who he seems thrusts Banks into a brutal
investigation in the clandestine world of spooks and shadows in the clandestine world of British secret intelligence. Could Silbert‘s murder have been a hands-off
killing by proxy, a crime maliciously manipulated by a third party?
Everything that follows in All the Colors of Darkness somehow relates to the doomed lovers - a series of incriminating photographs, a spunky down-on-her-luck private detective, and the stabbing of an underage lout deep within the ramshackle working-class Eastvale Estates. Meanwhile, Banks battles with the demands of the job and his personal life, the needs
of his girlfriend, Sophia, and of DS Gervaise as she fanatically tries to put a lid on the case upon orders from those higher up.
Robinson’s measured prose leads the reader on a multi-layered journey from rural Yorkshire to cosmopolitan London where Banks becomes caught up in sudden terrorist attack. While Wyman continues to send mixed messages, perhaps deliberately, Banks discovers that Silbert has kept a large part of his life secret in shades of darkness and shadows, smoke and mirrors. Weaving the play
Othello throughout, the character becomes an important symbol in the chain of events, exposing the power of language and the ability to terrorize through pictures.
In this authentic and compelling police procedural, the hidden threads of a doomed affair are eventually exposed and Banks is forced to learn some hard lessons about loyalty and betrayal.