Read Wednesday's Child Online

Authors: Peter Robinson

Wednesday's Child

More Acclaim for
Wednesday's Child

“His best work yet ... You really won't put this one down until the final paragraph.”

—
The Globe and Mail

“He is steadily ascending toward the pinnacle of crime fiction.”

—
Publishers Weekly

“With
Wednesday's Child
, Peter Robinson shows himself to be one of the very best crime novelists, and much more in control of his material and disturbing in his vision than certain much lauded composers of ‘psychological' crime fiction ... This is a superb book, and disturbing.”

—
Books in Canada

“A dark, unsettling story … Robinson has done his usual impressive job.”

—
The New York Times

“All the elements of the conventional British whodunit ... yet arranged in a fresh, unconventional manner ... Chalk up another winner for Peter Robinson with this low-key yet gripping thriller, an example of the British detective story at its best.”

—
The San Diego Tribune

Acclaim for
Innocent Graves

“Robinson adds another level of nuance to his already fully dimensioned fiction and takes a quantum leap as a writer.”

—
Publishers Weekly
(starred review)

“Robinson's work has an energy and imagination that makes it as fresh as it was in the beginning. In fact, this novel is one of the top three so far. This one is good right to the end.” —
The Globe and Mail

“The characters have complexity and the issues range broad and deep, raising interesting moral questions about bigotry, class privilege and the terrible crime of being different.”

—
The New York Times Book Review

Acclaim for
Dead Right

“Dead-on again … There is a sense of an older style of mystery writing at work within his series, a throwback to Josephine Tey and Ngaio Marsh … With nine Inspector Banks novels under his belt, Robinson has delivered enough installments now to make for a satisfying long read, beginning with
Gallow's View
and culminating with
Dead Right
.”

—
Edmonton Journal

“A very satisfying read … Like the late, great Raymond Chandler, Peter Robinson writes good mysteries laced with social comment.”

—
Calgary Herald

“You can maintain the quality in a series if you just pay careful attention to the details. Robinson does … This book is full of good characters and topical relevance. Robinson knows how to make a moral point and not lose sight of the story.” —
The Globe and Mail

Acclaim for
In a Dry Season

“The successful combination of the personal and the professional makes
In a Dry Season
another Robinson winner, well-written, deftly plotted and satisfyingly complete.”        —
The London Free Press

“Peter Robinson is an expert plotter with an eye for telling detail … The characters have complexity and the issues range broad and deep.”

—
The New York Times Book Review

“Those who have not discovered Peter Robinson's literary procedurals should not miss
In a Dry Season
. A seamless weaving of the past and present, with each illuminating the other.”

—
San Antonio Express-News

PENGUIN CANADA

WEDNESDAY
'
S CHILD

PETER ROBINSON
grew up in Leeds, Yorkshire. He emigrated to Canada in 1974 and attended York University and the University of Windsor, where he was later writer-in-residence. His many awards include five Arthur Ellis Awards, the Edgar Award for best short story, The Crime Writers' Association's Dagger in the Library Award, the Torgi talking book of the year, France's Grand Prix de Littérature Policière and Sweden's Martin Beck Award. His books have been published internationally to great acclaim and translated into fifteen languages. Peter Robinson lives in Toronto.

Other Inspector Banks mysteries

Gallows View

A Dedicated Man

A Necessary End

The Hanging Valley

Past Reason Hated

Final Account

Innocent Graves

Dead Right

In a Dry Season

Cold Is the Grave

Aftermath

The Summer That Never Was

Playing with Fire

Strange Affair

Piece of My Heart

Inspector Banks collections

Meet Inspector Banks

(includes
Gallows View, A Dedicated Man
and
A Necessary End
)

Inspector Banks Investigates
(includes
The Hanging Valley, Past Reason Hated
and
Wednesday's Child
)

The Return of Inspector Banks
(includes
Innocent Graves, Final Account
and
Dead Right
)

Also by Peter Robinson

Caedmon's Song

No Cure for Love

Not Safe After Dark

WEDNESDAY'S

CHILD

Peter Robinson

PENGUIN CANADA

Published by the Penguin Group

Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

M4P 2Y3 (a division of Pearson Canada Inc.)

Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, U.S.A. Penguin Books Ltd, 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

Penguin Ireland, 25 St Stephen's Green, Dublin 2, Ireland (a division of Penguin Books Ltd)

Penguin Group (Australia), 250 Camberwell Road, Camberwell, Victoria 3124, Australia

(a division of Pearson Australia Group Pty Ltd)

Penguin Books India Pvt Ltd, 11 Community Centre, Panchsheel Park, New Delhi – 110 017, India Penguin Group (NZ), cnr Airborne and Rosedale Roads, Albany, Auckland 1310, New Zealand

(a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd)

Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty) Ltd, 24 Sturdee Avenue, Rosebank, Johannesburg 2196, South Africa

Penguin Books Ltd, Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

First published in a Viking Canada hardcover by Penguin Group (Canada), a division of Pearson Canada Inc., 1992

Published in Penguin Canada paperback by Penguin Group (Canada), a division of Pearson Canada Inc., 1993

Published in this edition, 2006

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 (WEB)

Copyright © Peter Robinson, 1992

All rights reserved. Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise), without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the above publisher of this book.

Publisher's note: This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

Manufactured in Canada.

LIBRARY AND ARCHIVES CANADA CATALOGUING IN PUBLICATION

Robinson, Peter, 1950–

Wednesday's child : Inspector Banks investigates / Peter Robinson.

First published: Toronto : Viking, 1992.

ISBN-13: 978-0-14-305219-7

ISBN-10: 0-14-305219-5

I. Title.

PS8585.O35176W44  2006   C813'.54     C2006-902181-3

Except in the United States of America, this book is sold subject to the condition that it shall not, by way of trade or otherwise, be lent, re-sold, hired out, or otherwise circulated without the publisher's prior consent in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition including this condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser.

Visit the Penguin Group (Canada) website at
www.penguin.ca

Special and corporate bulk purchase rates available; please see

www.penguin.ca/corporatesales
or call 1-800-399-6858, ext. 477 or 474

For Sheila

“Lost in the desart wild

Is your little child.

How can Lyca sleep

If her mother weep?”

•  •  •

Sleeping Lyca lay

While the beasts of prey,

Come from caverns deep,

View'd the maid asleep.

William Blake

“The Little Girl Lost”

ONE

I

The room was a tip, the woman a slattern. On the floor, near the door to the kitchen, a child's doll with one eye missing lay naked on its back, right arm raised above its head. The carpet around it was so stained with ground-in mud and food, it was hard to tell what shade of brown it had been originally. High in one corner, by the front window, pale flowered wallpaper had peeled away from a damp patch. The windows were streaked with grime, and the flimsy orange curtains needed washing.

When Detective Chief Inspector Alan Banks perched at the edge of the scuffed olive-green armchair, he felt a spring dig into the back of his left thigh. He noticed Detective Constable Susan Gay turn up her nose as she looked at a garish oil-painting of Elvis Presley above the mantelpiece. “The King” was wearing a jewelled white cape with a high collar and held a microphone in his ringed hand.

In contrast to the shabby decor, a compact music centre in mint condition stood against one wall, a green-and-yellow budgie in a cage nonchalantly sharpened its bill on a cuttlefish, and an enormous matte black colour television blared out from one corner. “Blockbusters” was on, and Banks heard Bob Holness ask, “What ‘B' is the name of an African country bordering on South Africa?”

“Could you turn the sound down, please, Mrs Scupham?” Banks asked the woman.

She looked at him blankly at first, as if she didn't understand his request, then she walked over and turned off the TV altogether. “You can call me Brenda,” she said when she sat down again.

Banks took a closer look at her. In her late twenties, with long dirty-blonde hair showing dark roots, she possessed a kind of blowzy sexuality that hinted at concupiscent pleasure in bed. It was evident in the languor of her movements, the way she walked as if she were in a hot and humid climate.

She was a few pounds overweight, and her pink polo-neck sweater and black mini-skirt looked a size too small. Her full, pouty lips were liberally coated in scarlet lipstick, which matched her long, painted fingernails, and her vacuous, pale blue eyes, surrounded by matching eye-shadow, made Banks feel he had to repeat every question he asked.

Seeing the ashtray on the scratched coffee-table in front of him, Banks took out his cigarettes and offered the woman one. She accepted, leaning forward and holding back her hair with one hand as he lit it for her. She blew the smoke out through her nose, emulating some star she had seen in a film. He lit a cigarette himself, mostly to mask the peculiar smell, redolent of boiled cabbage and nail-polish remover, that permeated the room.

“When did you first get the feeling something was wrong?” he asked her.

She paused and frowned, then answered in a low voice, husky from too many cigarettes. “Just this afternoon. I phoned them, and they said they'd never heard of Mr Brown and Miss Peterson.”

“And you got worried?”

“Yes.”

“Why did you wait so long before checking up?”

Brenda paused to draw on her cigarette. “I don't know,” she said. “I thought she'd be all right, you know… .”

“But you could have called this morning. That's when they said they'd bring her back, isn't it?”

“Yes. I don't know. I suppose so. I just … besides, I'd got things to do.”

“Did the visitors show you any identification?”

“They had cards, like, all official.”

“What did the cards say?”

Mrs Scupham turned her head to one side, showing only her profile. “I didn't really get a good look. It all happened so fast.”

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