The best book I read this month is one I'm still reading (shhh...don't tell!). It's the latest in Peter Robinson's Inspector Alan Banks series, which is set in the fictional town of Eastvale in Yorkshire, England.
In this latest installment, called Sleeping in the Ground, Banks and his team must solve the mystery of a mass shooting at a local wedding. As I read, I'm learning a lot about U.K. gun laws. And, yes, there was the mandatory reference to the epidemic of shootings in the United States.
The book is the 24th in the series. (I started the series at book 10.) What keeps the series fresh is Robinson's treatment of his characters. In Sleeping in the Ground, recent changes in Banks's life have him off-balance. He was recently promoted, and he's not entirely comfortable with his new rank or his new office. He is also mourning the loss of a childhood friend while at the same time, dealing with an old flame who reappears in his life. Through these twists and turns, Robinson is forcing his leading man to grow and change.
Banks's supporting cast is equally engaging. In fact, I like two of them--Annie Cabbot and Winsome Jackman--more than I like Banks. Both feature prominently in this story (Jackman is one of the victims of the shooting), and I enjoy how they, too, have grown as the series has progressed.
The story (so far, at least) stands on its own, so it's not necessary to read the whole series to understand and enjoy this one book. But I am enjoying it more because I know the history of the characters and can see layers in their interactions as a result.