A collection of stories
The hero of Robinson's novels (Wednesday's Child, etc.), Yorkshire Chief Inspector Alan Banks, appears in three of this collection's 13 stories, and one of the 13, "Innocence," won the Canadian Crime Writers Award for best short story. That tale displays well Robinson's gift for turning a familiar plot inside-out as strange circumstances overwhelm his characters. A man waits outside a school to meet a teacher friend, draws the suspicion of parents and finds himself charged with the murder of a schoolgirl. What happens after his trial is shocking but, in Robinson's hands, perfectly believable. There's a similar twist in the title story, wherein an out-of-town visitor ventures nervously into an urban park often described as unsafe at night. There's danger, all right, but not what the reader expects. In "Fan Mail," a mystery novelist agrees to advise a Walter Mitty-like husband on innovative ways to murder his wife; an old secret leads to a perverse result. The plots of the stories are mostly solid and the characters are always vivid. U.S. readers may particularly enjoy Robinson's take on his fellow Canadians coping with Florida and southern California.