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A necessary end is a DCI Alan Banks novel, this one is set in the late 80's and tells the story of a policeman stabbed at an anti-government rally. DCI Banks is based in a fictional small town called Eastvale, which is somewhere in North Yorkshire I've always assumed its Ripon or Thirsk because there are clear links to Leeds and Bradford. Eastvale is a small quiet market town but a political rally goes wrong when a policeman is found stabbed, the policeman is from a neighbouring force and has a reputation for enjoying smacking protestors. The case appears to be a random act of violence, however, Banks has to cope with the arrival of Detective Superintendent Dick Burgess, Burgess and Banks have locked horns before and Banks has a low opinion of the man.
The investigation soon centres on the activities of a local artist colony based around a farm, the group have left-wing principles and one of the members had blood on his hands when arriving back to the farm after the demonstration. Burgess is quick to determine that someone from the community is a terrorist with radical views; he is a rabid right winger and sees reds under the bed at every turn. Banks is mellower and left leaning but still suspects that the killer of the policeman is a member of the farms community.
Peter Robinson has a skill of writing believable modern crime fiction; he centres his cases on the intelligent beer drinking, womanising, and music loving Banks. His plots are plot clever but not too labyrinthine, the unveiling of the culprits are always believable and he's not a one for introducing the unknown character at the end of the novel or making the back story too incredulous.
In this novel, he decides to introduce a Regan to Banks' Morse in the beer swilling, misogynist, racist, sexist DSI Burgess. Burgess or Dirty Dick as he's introduced in the book is willing to do anything to get a conviction and tends to go to any means to induce a confession or a bit of important information. Along with a dirty mouth, a lover of the ladies and a habit of smoking everywhere he goes he is introduced in this novel to great effect. This just makes Banks look even better and make him the copper you'd pick if you were ever arrested for killing someone, cerebral, clever and a dry sense of humour what more do you want.
The plot to a necessary end is of course clever and twisting without being ridiculous and the murder of the policeman more than just a random act of violence but we knew that from the very first chapter. There is a really obvious clue presented about a third of the way through which Banks, Burgess et al all seem to miss the significance of but was pretty obvious to this reviewer and I was finally proven correct. Here we are firmly on the side of the left-bank artists and the clever caring policeman rather than the thuggish Burgess; whether this is a commentary on the political situation in 1989 is beyond this reviewer. However, Burgess certainly encapsulates the latter Thatcher years of rampant commercialism and aggressive policy making.
I thoroughly enjoyed the novel, as all of Robinsons novels are written during the period they are set in then we also get a window into the late 1980's. Even this reviewer who was a teenager during the period has forgotten the prevalence of smoking (even during a meal in a restaurant, even reading it made the reviewer cringe), the use of Walkman's and cassettes and the amount that everyone seems to drink. I know that Burgess pops up every now and again in latter novels, but this is his first turn and he's hugely enjoyable to read about but you'd not want to spend much time with.
I have read several novels from Peter Robinson over the past few years and enjoyed them. Recently his books in the Inspector Banks series have been transferred to television. So I have been able to contrast the books with the television production. With this in mind I was keen to fill in some of the gaps and read the rest of the books from the series. Luckily I found this one in my local charity shop and being on sale for just a pound I really didn't think I could go wrong.
==Synopsis of the book:==
Inspector Alan Banks is attending a conference in his home and usually quite town of Eastvale. Amongst its speakers has the local MP Honoria Winstanley who along with her government are planning to bring nuclear weapons into the beautiful countryside near York. While everything is peaceful and running smoothly inside outside about 100 demonstrators are clashing with the Police. In the mayhem that follows the MP is led away from the meeting by a back door to the safely to her Hotel.
However in the fighting that happened outside the Community Centre a young Policeman Edwin Gill is fatally stabbed and many other protesters and Police are injured and taken to Hospital. Banks on realising what has happened and tries to ensure all those at the demonstration are accounted for so that he can go about finding out who killed this Officer. Detective Superintendent Burgess is brought in from London to work and co-ordinate Banks and his team and to try and secure a swift conviction as they start to try and piece together what happened that night and who was behind this crime. However Banks and Burgess have very different styles of working, can the two men work together to resolve this case?
==My thoughts on the novel:==
I thought this was a good well thought out Detective story. It was well written and a story I enjoyed from the first page to the very last. For me there was plenty to think about with the investigation while I also enjoyed the interaction away from it between the two main characters in the story Banks and Burgess. And in some ways their relationship added a lot to a good investigation as they seem to rub eachother up the wrong way and some of their interaction was very funny and added a bit of spice to the story.
Admittedly when I picked up this novel I had a very good idea what to expect. Having read several of the 19 books in this series. This story is an early one and was first published in 1989. Most of the ones I have read are later in the series so it was good to read this third book and get a real feel for the early investigations involving this fascinating Detective Inspector Banks. One who I have learnt to like and respect because of the logical and thoughtful way he goes about his work. These days the stories have been transferred to television and in my opinion they have done this well as they have not changed the stories from the books much so they tend to be really good mysteries.
While I am full of praise for this novel, one factor I did find frustrating but there is not much the author could do about it. The problem was that it was written in 1989. I found because of this the book had a real dated feel about it. There was a lot of talk about the Nuclear Weapons, Sellafield and the threat posed by Communism. This was because this was before the collapse and the Old Soviet Union. It was a time many where very worried about not only the threat from Communism but a Nuclear War where the majority of the population would be killed. Although in a sense it was interesting to be reminded of these times but at the same time good to know these troubles have subsided, only to be replaced by a huge host of new ones!!
When I found this book in the shop I knew because it was an Inspector Banks novel that I must purchase it. This is because I had enjoyed every book and every television adaptation that I have seen. So with confidence I went back in time to this early story within the series. The title I thought sounded quite mysterious and having read the book I can certainly see its relevance, but for me it tells little about the story which I think is a shame and probably signifies to me that this was not the most appropriate title for it.
Before purchasing I checked out the summary as I always do on the rear of the book. This for me was disappointing, my reason for saying this was it was quite short at only two short paragraphs. But it did not sell the novel as much as it should, yes it dealt with the demonstration and the uneasy relationship between Banks and Burgess but it could have said a lot more. For example it does not mention one of the key groups in the story the unique community at Maggie's Farm. They are an unusual group of people and one that played a constant role in the story and certainly one I always found interesting, not necessarily because of their beliefs but the way they lived and how they interacted with themselves and the rest of the town.
Despite not having a prologue I found the story very and easy to get into. I found I was hooked almost immediately as I liked the concept of the fight between the Police and the Demonstrators ending in suspected murder of a Policeman. And despite Banks initially taking control of the investigation he was replaced my a more Senior Officer from London, who did not like the Northern people or they way Banks worked. So ever present in the story was an uneasy relationship between the two men and I found this as intriguing as the murder as I never really knew what would happen next between them.
The story had a really good feel about it and a pace that was steady as showed the complexity and difficulties in trying to piece exactly what happened that night together. There where plenty of suspects and I really enjoyed the way when Banks and Burgess interviewed them, Burgess somewhat dated but effective style had not only the two men at odds but upset all those involved. For me it highlighted Policing in a bygone day where Officers could and would do what was necessary to get a result. It really showed the difference between the two men.
There was a real sense of mystery about the whole story. I found because it was cleverly written that the author only gave away so much information thus adding to the suspense about what happened and the characters role in it. I always had the feeling the story was developing well and I enjoyed some of the unexpected twists the story took. As these where never expected and usually impressed me with the clever ideas the author expressed.
He has an ability to get not only into regular characters such as Inspector Banks but others who will only appear in this story characters and share it with the reader in such a way you grew to know, understand and like these characters too. I found this noticeable particularly in this story maybe it was because the people at Maggie's Farm where different in ideology and background from the norm yet through Robinson's words you grew to understand and appreciate their ideals and values. This for me really added to an interesting story and made me want to know more about these people and I would as a result like to know what happens in the future to them but I guess I never will from the author I will have to decide for myself!!
The even pace of the story was maintained from start to finish. And unusually in this mystery I had no idea who was the guilty party or why. This is something in general I have found with the author and I am always impressed when an author can surprise you with the conclusion to the case and I was in this case. Yes you could argue that it all ended a little too quick, but the answers where all logical and in keeping with the characters personalities. For me it all made sense and was a fitting ending to what was a good story.
Inspector Banks is the main character within this series. I find him a really likeable Detective because he is thoughtful and considers the people he deals with feelings. I also like his clever mind and the way he works really contrasted with the man he was working for and answerable to in this investigation. It really showed the difference in working and made for a fascinating read. And much of the time away from the investigation involved these two men in the pub, which was always entertaining and you never knew what Burgess would get up to next and how Banks would deal with it.
For me the length of the story was spot on. Yes I would have really liked an epilogue but it was not necessary in the context of the story as everything was answered and resolved. With at the very end of the book a summary of several of the other stories in the Inspector Banks series just to try and wet you appetite.
I thought this was a very good crime thriller and I would recommend to anyone who enjoys a first class suspense story. The central character is wonderful and I particularly enjoyed his relationship in this story with his superior officer. The story had a really good feel about it as it was well thought out and one in which I always felt involved and needed to know what happened that night to the dead Policeman. The only real problem I found was I did think the story was a little dated as the world has moved on since it had been written and it really showed for me the change in time since the late 1980's.
Price: 4.24 New at Amazon
Publisher: Pan Books
Year first published: 1989
About the author: www.inspectorbanks.com
Thanks for reading my review
This review is published under my user name on Ciao and Dooyoo
© CPTDANIELS May 2012.
Peter Robinson's third book is also the third to feature his central character, Inspector Alan Banks. The first book in the series dealt with a peeping tom and broke us in nicely to the character and his transfer from London to Yorkshire. The second pitted Banks against a cunning murderer, and this, third, tempts the waters of politics and demonstrations. The book was first published in 1989, and this is important to remember when reading it, as there was a bit more limited technology and less emphasis on political correctness twenty years ago or so.
Inspector Banks and his officers are all present at a political presentation, partly to show face, but also to protect the MP involved and control the organised protest/demonstration going on outside. When the protest becomes a skirmish with the police and demonstrators fighting, the fatal stabbing of a policeman occurs, prompting Banks' superior to bring in a troubleshooter from further afield to help Banks with the case.
Robinson does well in keeping us on our toes. His first three Inspector Banks novels are all rather different from each other, with this third one putting the cat amongst the pigeons. Banks has spent the first two books struggling to adjust to life as a policeman outside the comfort of London. Just as he is starting to find his feet, in comes Detective Superintendent Richard 'Dirty Dick' Burgess, known for his forward-thinking ways of police work getting results quickly. This paves the way for Banks to find solace in his fellow Yorkshire policemen, who are also put out by the new arrival, and it helps establish Banks further in his surroundings.
Aside from this, the plot is actually better than his previous two novels. This time, it seems deeper, and the death of the policeman is considered suspect, with some believing it to be an accident as part of the protest, some thinking it was planned, knowing he would be there. Roots and motives take the police further afield to examine history, and we meet a wide ranging set of characters. The plot in general seems a lot deeper, and this heightens the excitement of the book in comparison to the previous two.
I would rate this book alongside the other two. They are all very good, but despite the clever workings of the author in this one, Banks is still portrayed as a character finding his feet, and I would have liked to have seen him more comfortable in his surroundings, particularly as he is a senior officer. This does happen in his later books as Banks develops more of a camaradery with his other policemen and the locals, but for the moment, there is still something lurking beneath the surface for Banks.
The book retails at £6.99 but is available from amazon.co.uk for £5.49 and you can probably find if even cheaper if you are prepare to search around.
Peter Robinson is responsible for the creation of Inspector Alan Banks, an ex-Metropolitan policeman who decided to move up north for a hopefully less stressful job with the Yorkshire Police. His first book, written while he was completing a PhD at York University, was sent on spec to Viking Penguin, was put in a pile with other unsolicited manuscripts and ended up being the only one chosen for publication of that pile. I have read most of the series and am rarely disappointed, although I found one of his non-series book, 'Caedmon's Song' about a young girl psychologically, physically and mentally damaged by an attempted serial killing, truly dreadful.
Originally from Yorkshire, Peter Robinson has lived in Canada for over 20 years, where he taught English at a number of colleges. He began writing in 1987 and has written about 15 novels in the Alan Banks' series. All are fairly hard-hitting, involving vicious crimes with any number of suspects through which Banks and his colleagues have to sift. Banks' home life plays an important part in the novels - he goes through a divorce and the death of his brother - and his mental health is put under great stress at times. Several of Robinson's books have been put forward for literary prizes, including 'In a Dry Season' which won three awards.
Eastvale, usually a peaceful town in the Yorkshire Dales, is hit by an anti-nuclear demonstration, which results in a struggle between the demonstrators and the police. One policeman is later stabbed to death. Suspicion falls naturally to the inhabitants of Maggie's Farm, most of whom are involved in political work and when the weapon is found with the fingerprints of one of the inhabitants on it, there is no particular surprise.
Inspector Alan Banks does not believe that all is as cut and dried, and he is worried about the pressure put on the suspect by Superintendent Dick Burgess, brought up from London to deal with the case because of the profession of the stabbed man. Then the owner of Maggie's Farm, Seth, is found dead in his workshop, having possibly committed suicide, but accompanied by a note that does not seem to have been written him. Banks is also intrigued by a number that he found in Seth's notebook - it seems somehow familiar, but it is not a phone number. Can Banks find out why the number is so familiar, find out who is responsible for the death of the policeman and Seth and stop Dick Burgess from creating more problems than he is solving?
This is only the third book in the series and Banks is still married to his wife Sandra and has two children at home, although there is a sense that perhaps things are not as happy as they could be. Banks is not the most exciting fictional detective there is - he drinks moderately, likes his music, appreciates beautiful women, but has no particularly endearing or disgusting characteristics, leaving him a little bland. He reminds me to a certain extent of Ian Rankin's John Rebus. However, he has grown on me during the course of the series as his family crisis grows and the stories are generally strong enough to hold attention anyway.
'Dirty Dick' Burgess, although not a main character in the series, does appear in two or three other books and is much less bland than Banks, being totally obnoxious, sexist and unpleasant. Yet Banks' treatment of him impresses him and the two become friends eventually - Banks often calls on Burgess to help out with London-based enquiries. Burgess' antics brightened up this book for me.
I did enjoy this book, as I have others in the series, although I do tend to find I have difficulty in remembering the plots of each book - they do tend to blend together, much as the Rebus books do too, probably largely because of the characters. However, I did enjoy this book and in fact have read it two or three times now. The story seems fairly cut and dried at the beginning, but keeps the reader's interest until the point where it is discovered that the original suspect is innocent. We are then slowly drip-fed information, which only begins to make sense towards the end of the book. The ending is very well-done and very moving. On the whole, if you are a fan of crime fiction, this is very likely to appeal. Recommended.
This book is available from Amazon for £5.59. Published by Pan. 384 pages. ISBN: 0330491636
A reissue of the third Inspector Banks novel; Violence erupts at an anti-nuclear demonstration in Eastvale, leaving one policeman stabbed to death. At first there are over a hundred suspects, but then things narrow down to the people who live on Maggie's Farm, an isolated house high on the daleside. Among the suspects is Dennis Osmond, a social worker involved with Jenny Fuller, Inspector Banks's friend. As if this isn't enough to cope with, Banks finds his freedom hampered by the appointment of an old enemy, Detective Superintendent Richard 'Dirty Dick' Burgess, to head the investigation. Finally, warned off the case, the only way Banks can salvage his career is by beating Burgess to the killer.