Tuesday, March 25, 2014
CHILDREN OF THE REVOLUTION by Peter Robinson
Disclosure: I’m a huge fan of Peter Robinson and his Detective Chief Inspector Alan Banks novels. There - my bias has been admitted up front. For me, these stories never fail to excite, satisfy and surprise. Robinson has a wonderful ability to mesh his characters personal lives with the mystery at hand, thus creating a reader/character bond. So, beginning another Banks novel is very much like visiting with an old friend (in a pub over a pint of Sneck Lifter, of course).
One of the pleasures found in reading a Banks novel is being privy to the way the Chief Inspector’s mind works, and this comes to the fore in Children Of The Revolution. Robinson loses no time in collaring his readers as on page 2 we find Banks called to a crime scene where he views “the crumpled body of an emaciated old man.” The name of the deceased is Gavin Miller, a recluse who has struggled to live at the poverty level since his dismissal from Eastvale College job following charges of sexual misconduct some four years ago.
Miller’s body was found beneath a railroad bridge. The side of the bridge was too high for him to have simply fallen - he had to have been lifted up or thrown over. Was it the result of a fight, murder or manslaughter? To further confound officials 5,000 pounds was found in Miller’s pocket - drug money?
Banks heads the investigation with his team spread out to uncover any information they could about Miller whether it be in his neighborhood or from former colleagues at Eastvale. What few answers they receive only further muddy the waters; contradictions, half-truths abound. However, it eventually becomes apparent that the answers Banks needs are not to be found in the recent past but more than likely in events that occurred some 40 years ago. As they track Miller’s past life Banks finds a link between Miller and Lady Veronica Chalmers, a beautiful woman married to a wealthy producer of musicals, a successful author in her own right, and aunt to the man who may well be the next home secretary.
A brief preliminary visit to Lady Chalmers brings down the wrath of his superiors and Banks is ordered to back off - never contact her again. Despite the warning he cannot shake the idea that she is hiding something, but what? Banks decides to try to hide any further investigation of the Lady thus endangering not only his career but that of a member of his team.
What a pleasure it is to follow this precisely constructed, thoughtfully paced plot to its surprising but thoroughly satisfying conclusion! Children Of The Revolution is a winner on all fronts.
- Gail Cooke