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The summer that never was is a crime novel in the DCI Banks series written by Peter Robinson, the books are set in North Yorkshire/West Yorkshire; however, this book is also set in Peterborough.
The summer that never was
The summer that never was tells the story of a friend of Banks' going missing when they were 14 years old when Banks was growing up in Peterborough. Graham Marshall a friend of Banks goes missing whilst delivering newspapers early one Sunday morning in 1965, the disappearance is never solved and Banks has had guilt over an assault he suffered a few weeks earlier by a tramp. Was the assault the first attempt by the man who would eventually kill his friend?
Fast forward to modern day, Banks is on a month's holiday on a small Greek island when he hears of the discovery of bones in Peterborough. He dashes back and offers his services to the Peterborough force to help find out what happened to his friend all those years ago, meanwhile, in Yorkshire a son of a famous model and her ex-footballer husband who's the boy's stepfather has also gone missing. Soon the missing in Yorkshire turns into a murder mystery and Banks is now involved in a murder mystery set mostly in his own memory and one set very firmly in the here and now.
Peter Robinson has a skill at constructing well balanced and believable murder mysteries in which all the loose ends come together in a satisfying way for the reader. In this novel, he attempts to write about two different Banks, one a man in his late forties a senior policeman investigating a possible abduction gone wrong and the other a 14 year old Banks obsessed with girls, sex, music and more girls.
The book doesn't exactly shift between 1965 and present day as both investigations are set in the present but the use of Banks memories and reminiscences make the Marshall investigation an investigation into growing up in the 1960's and boyhood fantasies. I'll suggest the author is a boy who grew up in the Sixties as his reminiscences are far too accurate for a younger author, in that we live through drainpipe trousers, LP's, menthol cigarettes and the first stirrings of sexual frustration. The placing of Banks in his parent's house and boyhood bedroom only adds to the sense of a time long past and that the 60's was indeed a decade of change.
The present day investigation of the disappearance and subsequent death of Luke Armitage is the main focus of the book, after all how much of a trip into the memories of a 50 year old man can you write about? Luke is the son of a pop singer who committed suicide and has artistic leanings much to his football playing step-fathers annoyance. He was last seen in the presence of a strange Goth girl, who no-one appears to recognise. This part of the book is more straightforward and set out in a classic murder mystery setting, disappearance, death, lots of questions, a few red herrings before the truth is out.
The real star of the book is the 60's disappearance, in it we are exposed to 60's sex, 60's hypocrisy and do we find out how Graham died? Read the novel and find out!
The Banks novels have become my favourites since my mum suggested the author a month or so ago, I'd say this one didn't touch the heights of a piece of my heart which I'd like to review but DooYoo won't allow book suggestions at the moment (come on DooYoo we've had 3 months now) but was better than Bad Boy. This is the third novel I've read of his and the books aren't in any kind of linear timeline but the books are written in a manner in which prior knowledge of what's happened to Banks isn't essential and you can enjoy the twists and turns in the plot.
The Summer That Never Was is the 13th book in Peter Robinson's Inspector Banks series, a collection of books which has had its ups and downs since the first one, Gallows View, was published in 1987. Despite this being pre-Rebus, Robinson and Banks have been constantly compared to Rankin and Rebus throughout the latter's emergence which has now come to an end, being outlasted by the former. In many ways, it's a natural comparison to make and I find plenty of similarities between the two gruff and experienced policemen that form the leads for the two authors.
In this particular book, Robinson continues his aggressive development of Banks' personal life as interwoven with his professional experiences. There were a few books in the middle of the series which had quite a bit of filler when it came to the padding, but of late there have been a few really well developed plots to get your teeth into as a reader. One thing this book does is place Banks on the back foot with both of the investigations it encompasses, introducing the discovery of a body from Banks' past and also involving a kidnapping in his own back yard that is (initially) handled by Annie Cabot, his former lover but now an Inspector in his division, which he has crawled to the top of over the years.
A few of the books have mentioned events in his past that you just know are going to surface at some point, and one of the two plot threads here sees the recovery of the bones of his childhood friend Graham, thought missing for many years and with eventual links to mafia and the Krays coming into the tale. Banks has a personal interest in this case, despite being told to keep his nose out by the officer overseeing events back at Banks' childhood turf. This is mixed in very well with the kidnapping of a local teen, son of a famous couple with ties to footballing, modelling and 60s rock legends, and features Annie quite heavily before Banks enters the fray. I like how Robinson allows other characters to take the lead for large parts of the book. Every now and then, he'll reintroduce his lead male though just so he can assert his authority to remind us who the star of the books really is, but having such strong sharing of the lead really makes a difference. It keeps you on your toes as a reader, and the dual plot means that there's a few things to think about.
Robinson makes sure that one plot advances quicker than the other, and while the local kidnapping takes on twists and turns galore at quite a high pace, the developments of the cold case featuring Banks' friend has a much slower and deliberate progression. This comparison provides a nice contrast that is another feature of the book I liked. I feel that Robinson is progressing with each step, and although reading the previous books isn't an essential prerequisite to understanding this, having done so really gives you a strong base for being able to start this one off with a bang. There are moments where his family come into play and references are made to previous cases and events and characters who have appeared within them, and there's something about the recognition of a name when reading one of a series. It certainly looks as if Robinson now has the balance of each element of his books firmly in his grasp and is releasing things to us in just the right portion as each book is released.
The Summer That Never Was had its first publication in 2003, in hardback, and since then there have been a few more titles to hit the shelves. As with the last few, I find that putting it down makes me want to pick the next one up straight away as I love the way he is progressing things and how he develops his plots. If I were to have one criticism it's that the buildup is so good that the conclusion gets a bit swallowed up by it all, and the revelations that a good crime thriller ought to have just seem to be a bit lacking. Authors such as Stephen King do the same thing, although the depth there is so vast that you expect things to be left in the balance. With Robinson, I just wish he'd take a bit longer at the end, drawing things out a bit more as opposed to cramming the final bits into a short chapter. It does make it feel somewhat anticlimactic, even if it's well thought out.
Overall then, another great Banks book, albeit with another hurried ending. Robinson is certainly getting his balance right with the plots, characters and development through the series. I just wish he'd rein it in a bit at the end. Even so, highly recommended, and I can't wait to read the next one.
Peter Robinson wrote his first Inspector Banks novel (Gallows View) back in 1987. He has written 14 in the series the latest being Playing With Fire which is out now on hardback. The Summer That Never Was is his 13th and the last one out in paperback. If you are thinking about reading them then it isn?t necessary to read them in order as I haven?t and can still follow the plot. They are all based around Detective Chief Inspector Alan Banks who has moved from London to the Yorkshire Dales for a less stressful life. Well it turns out that life up North isn?t as peaceful as he thought! I bought my first Peter Robinson novel as a joke. My boss has the same name and I thought I?d give it a bash. Being into crime/thriller books it wasn?t much of a risk. Now I?m glad and I am working my way through them! I was lucky to buy a few on 3 for 2 at Waterstones last summer. The book It starts off with a skeleton being uncovered at a digging site where a new shopping centre is going to be built. That?s what I like about Robinson he dives straight into something interesting! Detective Inspector Michelle Hart of the Cambridgeshire Constabulary is in charge of the case. At the post mortem it is discovered that the bones belong to a boy between 12 and 15 who was missing 20-30 years ago. Meanwhile Banks is having a holiday on a Greek island. He has run away from his problems back at home and is trying to relax. Whilst reading the paper (several days old) he reads an article about these bones that have been found. Interested he reads on. It turns out they belong to his childhood friend Graham who went missing when they were 14. For years he has had a guilty conscience as a man tried to grab him 2 weeks before his friend went missing and he failed to report it even when Graham was missing. He didn?t want to get into trouble as he and his friends were truanting at the time. Graham has been mentioned in previous books where Banks was feelin
g guilty. It was partly the reason he became a police officer. He has carried this guilt for years and now has a chance to find out how he was killed and more importantly who was responsible. So Banks returns to England to offer his assistance? Meanwhile back in Yorkshire Detective Inspector Annie Cabbot is investigating a missing boy, Luke Armitage, the son of a famous ex footballer and model. Banks gets involved in both as he helps his fellow colleague Annie when she informs him on his return. She understands the reason he has returned early. She in fact was the only person that knew about his guilty. She wishes him well but tells him to be careful, as he may be a suspect! The plot thickens but I?m not giving anymore away, as I wouldn?t want to spoil it for anyone who is going to read it! Robinson is very easy to read. The chapters are very small and they are then broken up with a space and *. I find these easier to read this way as you can read as much of as little as you want to. He also switches narrator, which enables us the reader to learn as much as possible. Music is frequently mentioned throughout this novel as it is in his other books. As Banks thinks back to the time Graham went missing 60s music gets a mention as does his normal musical tastes. Also the missing boy Luke Armitage?s biological father was a rock star who committed suicide. In my opinion this is one of his best novels I have read to date. Banks gets involved in both of the case and it does not get confusing at all. He manages to move from one to the other successfully. I highly recommend Peter Robinson, if you haven?t read him give one a go. You can always look on ebay for a bargain! If you?re still not convinced have a look on: http://www.inspectorbanks.com/ Published by Pan Books 2004, 500 pages £6.99 Quotes: ?Any reader who still misses Morse should promptly resolve to go north with B
anks? INDEPENDENT ?Peter Robinson succeeds in a brilliantly contrasting the two cases? Inspector Banks is making a real mark as one of our most thoughtful and interesting detectives? SUNDAY EXPRESS