Newest Review: ... Nick Barber is found dead in a holiday retreat so enter DCI Banks. The book moves from 1969 to 2005, not quite every chapter but regul... more
When we liked Banks
Piece of My Heart - Peter Robinson
Member Name: darren55
Piece of My Heart - Peter Robinson
Advantages: Well constructed murder mystery set in two decades
The DCI Alan Banks novels written by Peter Robinson are a new obsession of mine; they are set in North Yorkshire in the fictional town of Eastdale and tell the travails of DCI Banks, a man in his Fifties who is divorced, intelligent, opera loving but with an edgier quality than the ubiquitous Morse.
As with all DCI Banks novels we start with the discovery of the body, only this time the novel begins in 1969 where a young girl is found in a sleeping bag at a rock concert. The girl had been stabbed and stuffed in the bag, the concert was the first in Yorkshire and the investigation is headed by a DCI Chadwick who is a WW2 veteran and rather straight-laced. Jump forward to 2005 and a music journalist Nick Barber is found dead in a holiday retreat so enter DCI Banks. The book moves from 1969 to 2005, not quite every chapter but regularly as both investigations gather speed; the sections covering the 1969 investigation tend to be first allowing for a retrospective analysis by Banks in 2005. The murders appear unconnected, however, the actions of a famous band the Matters seems to be the bridge between the them soon Banks is as much following the original investigation as covering the modern case.
The skill required for jumping between 1969 and 2005 takes some doing but the author manages to engage the reader in both areas. So we follow the psychedelic pop scene through the eyes of a Presbyterian hardnosed cop in Chadwick and the more moderate Banks who remembers his own teenage years in the 1960's. The actions of the Mad Hatters, the bad members, the house they produced their albums in and the death of the mysterious journalist soon weave a tale of sex, drugs and rock and roll.
The strengths of Peter Robinson are a well-constructed plot, well defined characters and a desire to let the story have its desired length so we don't have any books which feel cut down to size or too long to be feasible. Here we have a 450 page book which introduces the main characters early own and keeps switching between the 60's and modern day without losing the thread of story and character development.
Indeed the use of two main male leads is handled tactfully and cleverly, the exploration of 60's culture is of course for a man who grew up in the 60's but getting the correct police attitudes is a plaudit for the writer's research.
Finally there is the answer to the two murders, we follow the original investigation only so far before Banks finds out who was the guilty man but of course there are further secrets to be revealed. The secrets surrounded the original case are brought to a conclusion with the identity of the killer of the journalist.
This so far has been my favourite Banks novels, it certainly left the reader satisfied by the outcome of the investigations and there aren't any sudden discoveries at the end of the book which means couldn't have a decent stab at guessing the killer(s).
Hopefully, Peter Robinson will maintain this high standard of writing and we get more intricate, clever murder mysteries in the future.
Summary: A decent read