CHILDREN OF THE REVOLUTION
By Peter Robinson
William Morrow, 2014 ($25.99)
Reviewed by Larry Jung
Peter Robinson's creation Detective Chief Inspector Alan Banks is an appealing everyman who Robinson uses to give the reader snapshots of British society. The more things seem to change, the more they stay the same. DCI Banks and his colleagues see this paradox in the crimes they investigate. The ugly side of human nature is reflected in the victims, the innocents, and the villains. From the lowly estate housing to the manor houses, no one is immune to lust, greed, pride, jealousy, and revenge.
Alan Banks found this out when he moved his family from London to escape big city crime only to find murder in rural Eastvale in Yorkshire. Banks suffers all the problems of a baby-boomer growing up and old in post-war Britain. As a policeman, Banks loses his wife Sandra and two children to the job. He has a short affair with a colleague. Takes leave of absence to sort things out. Investigates the killing of his brother. Returns to work, but with a cloud over his head. But through it all, Banks does what he does best, catch villains and piss off his boss. But now Banks is approaching a crossroads in his professional career: retirement or seek promotion. Neither is appealing to him. The current case puts the decision on the back-burner.
The death of a down-and-out man named Gavin Miller is a puzzler from the start. He is found dead, having jumped or been thrown off a bridge. On his person are 5,000 £ in cash. But Gavin Miller was known to be always hard-up for money and lived in a dilapidated cottage. A morose man, and not particularly friendly, Miller had a passion for records of the music of the 60's and 70's. Banks briefly admires Miller's record collection.
For Banks, this might be a clue to who Miller was and from there, why he was killed. There is nothing much to go on. Little forensics. Banks is undeterred. "I've often thought," Banks says to his boss, "that solving a crime has far more to do with understanding people and their motives than it does with spectrographic analysis and DNA." But his boss counters, "But in the end it's forensics that will get a conviction any day over motive." (Page 30)
The investigation leads Banks and his team back in time to the 70's to connect the dots between the down-and-out Gavin Miller to posh mansions and Lady Chalmers. What was the seven minute phone call between the two? What connects, if anything, an alcoholic low-life like Miller to a Lady whose nephew is likely to be the new Home Secretary?
I thoroughly enjoyed following DCI Banks as he and his team investigates Gavin Miller's murder. The character of Alan Banks is accessible as being one of us. This is particularly the case with me as I am contemporary in age to the character. I liked that DS Winsome Jackman was given a significant part in the investigation. Her scenes with Lisa Gray were well done, giving scope to Winsome. Annie Cabot this time around doesn't over shallow Winsome. The three — Banks, Cabot, and Jackman — are a formidable team: Banks — intense and focused; Cabot — quick and fierce; Jackman — exacting standards and empathy. The mystery is satisfying. With Peter Robinson's sure touch at vivid characterizations and depicting sense of place, CHILDREN OF THE REVOLUTION is among the top books in the long running Inspector Banks series.
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