13 May 2008

Favourite Author, Peter Robinson

Peter Robinson's 16th novel in the Inspector Banks series, PIECE OF MY HEART, is one of the nominations for the 2008 Theakstons Crime Novel of the Year Award, which will be presented at the Harrogate festival, at which Peter will be present.

Fantastic Fiction has a list of all 18 titles published over the last 21 years. I haven't read them all by any means. FRIEND OF THE DEVIL (2007) is ensconced on Mt. TBR, and the 18th ALL THE COLOURS OF DARKNESS is due out later this year.

Most people don't realise that Peter Robinson is in fact Canadian - his books come over, not just in setting but also in style, as British police procedurals.

If you want to look at Peter's own website, you have a choice of two, both called, confusingly, "Peter Robinson's Official Website". The Inspector Banks site is really a blog and has an RSS feed. There is a list of Peter's public appearances. It also told me that Peter won the Crimespree award for 2007 the best on-going series. The other site is a splashier one, divided in two: a US site and a Canadian one, contains comprehensive information on his last 7 novels, and interviews which reveal more about him.

Anyway my own little database contains mini-reviews of 4 of his novels that I have read in the last 40 months. You'll see that all have rated very highly.

PAST REASON HATED (1991) My rating: 4.7
Susan Gay, newly appointed Detective Constable at Eastvale, her second day on the job in D.I. Bank's team, is called to a murder scene. It is 22 December, Christmas is approaching, and the rest of the team are at D.S. Hatchley's wedding celebrations. The victim Caroline Hartley lies stretched out on the lounge in front of the fire, with multiple stab wounds in her throat and chest, and blood drenching her whole body. She is part of the cast of a local dramatic production of Twelfth Night, and right from the beginning it seems as if there are far too many suspects.

INNOCENT GRAVES (1997) My rating: 4.6
The worst that can possibly happen...has.
A beautiful child is dead -- defiled and murdered in a lonely graveyard on a fog-shrouded evening. It is the sort of horrific crime Chief Inspector Alan Banks fled the city to escape. But the slaying of a bright and lovely teenager from a wealthy, respected family is not the end of a nightmare. Lies, dark secrets, unholy accusations, and hints of sexual depravity swirl around this abomination like leaves in an autumn wind, leading to a shattering travesty of justice that will brutally divide a devastated community with suspicion and hatred. But Banks must remain vigilant in his hunt -- because when the devil is left free to pursue his terrible calling, more blood will surely flow.

STRANGE AFFAIR (2005) My rating: 5.0
On a warm summer night, an attractive woman hurtles north in a blue Peugeot with a hastily scrawled address in her pocket, while, back in London, a desperate man leaves an urgent late-night phone message on his brother's answering machine. By sunrise the next morning, the woman is found inside her car along an otherwise peaceful country lane, shot, execution-style, through the head.
Welcome to the idyllic Yorkshire Dales, where Detective Inspector Annie Cabbot arrives on the scene and discovers, to her surprise, a slip of paper in the dead woman's pocket that bears the name of her colleague and erstwhile lover, Detective Chief Inspector Alan Banks. Banks, meanwhile -- already haunted and withdrawn after nearly dying in the fire that destroyed his home -- has gone missing just when he's needed most, and has left plenty of questions behind.

PIECE OF MY HEART (2006) My rating: 4.7
An interesting structure this one: two investigations in one. In 1969 as organisers cleaned up after Yorkshire's biggest rock festival they discovered that an abandoned sleeping bag contains the body of a young woman who has been murdered. The victim has links to one of the bands, the Mad Hatters, that performed at the festival. And now in the present, Detective Inspector Banks is involved in investigating the murder of a journalist writing an article on the Mad Hatters. The novel pursues the two investigations and gradually they begin to converge..


Anonymous said...

Interesting. A couple of years ago I read the first two PRs, as a result of consistently hearing good things about him, and the books being sold as a set at a very good price.
I have read no more since, daunted by the sheer number. But for strange reasons, I've acquired the four most recent titles in the past few months, so in the light of your capsule reviews here, I clearly must just bite the bullet and get on with it!

Anonymous said...

I agree with you about "Piece of my heart". It creates a very fine atmosphere of the late 60s.

I wondered at first why you didn't include "In a dry season". Seems you didn't read it in the last 40 months. As far as I can see he accomplished a new level with that book.

PS. I wouldn't call Robinson a Canadian either. "Robinson now divides his time between Toronto and Richmond, North Yorkshire".

Karen (Euro Crime) said...

I think he was born/brought up in Yorkshire but has lived in Canada for a long time. He stills sounds English though :-).


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