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on 11 October 2007
With this novel in the Inspector Banks series, Robinson has taken his work to the next level. His magnificent ability to use everyday situations in his plots, to provide insights regarding the motivations of his characters, and his cleverly-crafted mysteries are complemented with a deeper look at the main characters. This last element is the one that does the trick for me and lifts this effort from very good to excellent.

Inspector Banks has to find Caroline's killer, which is not an easy task, especially due to the number of people that had both opportunity and motive for committing the crime. The fact that she was living as a life-partner with another woman, who is not yet divorced, complicates matters and allows for some very interesting insights into the prejudices of some of the characters involved. When you add a piece of music playing repeatedly at the crime scene, which seems to have a clear symbolism, the elements are set for a compelling mystery.

This novel has all the characteristics that have made this author one of my favorites in the genre, but it goes even beyond that. This is the first time I see several passages with some fine humor, which works very well to provide the story with variety and to lighten the mood. Since before this work Robinson has been compared repeatedly with P. D. James, he just could not refrain himself and I almost started to laugh out loud when Banks thinks to himself: "I'm getting just like that Dalgliesh fellow..."

Robinson also makes great strides in terms of the development of the main characters, giving them even more depth. Not only we get a glimpse of some of Banks' reasons for leaving London and settling on the countryside, but there is considerably more material dealing with the personal relationship among the characters than there was in the previous novel, "The Hanging Valley". Another aspect that helps is the inclusion of a new character. Susan, a new constable that has just joined the Eastvale team, possesses a complex personality and a few prejudices that allow for some enlightening contrasts with Banks. She reminds me a little of Sergeant Barbara Havers, the beloved character in the series by Elizabeth George.

There is no question in my mind, this is the best book in the series so far and I recommend it wholeheartedly.
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A woman is found murdered in her own home with some classical music playing on repeat. No one knows very much about Caroline it seems, even her partner, Veronica who has lived with her for the last two years. Is it a past or present entanglement which has led to her death? Several people visited her on the night of her death - not all of them have been identified. Was one of them her killer?

I found this book compelling reading. There are plenty of suspects and the characters are interesting and believable and the background of Eastvale just before and after Christmas is well drawn and evocative. I like DCI Banks, with his love of music and softly, softly approach to investigating crimes. It was also interesting to see a bit more of Susan Gay, the newest recruit to the CID team.

I recommend this well written series if you like your crime novels with not too much on the page violence and with well drawn characters and plots. The books can be read in any order as there is enough background information to inform the new reader of the background to the series.
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on 20 January 2004
The last few crime novels I've read - before this one - have been lacklustre, badly thought-out, over-commercial affairs. Things had got so bad that I was beginning to despair of the genre as a whole. So it was a real joy to find this book: well thought-out plot, well written, good dialogue, believable and interesting characterisation (well, pretty much, a little over-heated in places maybe) and an excellent sense of place and season. My only quibble was a rather melodramatic ending. This was the first time I'd read a book by Peter Robinson and I'm glad to have found him. I'll certainly try his other books. If (like me) you like Henning Mankell's and Ian Rankin's books, this is ideal Sunday afternoon reading - entertaining and intelligent.
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on 23 February 2014
Past Reason Hated is the fifth Peter Robinson book to feature his detective Alan Banks and is overall a satisfying read.

In this book Alan and his team are faced with the task of discovering the killer of a local woman, Caroline Hartley, who was stabbed to death in her own home on a cold Christmas night. To add to the confusion the killer also lays Caroline out in a pose as if she is sleeping and leaves a record playing in the background, Banks is convinced the record is of great importance but the rest of the team are less convinced and soon the team are running out of suspects as the killer appears to slipping through the net.

Set around Christmas Robinson paints wonderful images of a Yorkshire village covered in snow and as is normal in a Banks book the setting becomes a key part of the book as Robinson creates a picture perfect background for the action contained in the book. Robinson also rearranges his cast in this book, Susan Gay promoted into the CID team and she adds a lot to this book. Indeed Susan takes up a good deal of the narrative in this book and in my opinion that is a positive and I look forward to her growing in the upcoming books.

All in all I found this an enjoyable book. The story and plot was very well put together and despite dragging a little in the middle I would recommend this book.
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VINE VOICEon 14 May 2011
Banks loves music and a drink but he's not as erudite as Morse but I couldn't help feeling throughout this book that they'd get along just fine, enjoy the same cases. This was a bit dated - 1991 - and social mores have moved on thankfully so a story based around the murder of a lesbian and some social comments around the issue didn't quite ring true. My fault - I should have read it a long time ago. It was a comforting read for the past few windy afternoons when it was a joy to see Banks go home to Sandra and all was good in their world. Where there's an AD society there will always be friction - that's what I've found anyway - then throw in abuse, a child given to adoption, a number of people of both gender attracted to Caroline Hartley and you have a good mix for murder. Most enjoyable.
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on 2 August 2006
This book really was fantastic. I could hardly bear to put it down. As with all the Inspector Banks novels, Robinson keeps you guessing right to the end, throwing in a few twists and turns along the way just for good measure. Real page turner, this is the best in the series so far. I'm working through them in order, and am enjoying every single moment of it. Banks is definitely the best detective series on the market at the moment.
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on 2 February 2009
I couldn't go wrong with this. I love Robinson's Inspector Banks novels and I'm heavily into amateur dramatics. This was another cracking, page turner. It's well thought out, the characters seem genuine and little details are brilliantly described. Being a member of a couple of am. dram companies myself, I did find the details of their activities slightly cliched, but that is a minor quibble for an otherwise outstanding crime novel.
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Peter Robinson grew up in Yorkshire, and is the author of thirteen previous novels featuring Inspector Banks. He is the winner of numerous awards in the United States, Britain and Canada, and in 2002 he won the CWA Dagger in the Library. As I also come from Leeds the background to his stories is something that I have experienced first hand and because of this I have a special affection for his books. However they would be first class crime fiction wherever they were based. This particular novel is one of the author's earlier books in the series.

The scene looks like a typical Christmas in many households, a log fire, sheepskin rug, lights twinkling on the tree, the all is not as it seems. Caroline Hartley, the attractive woman lying on the couch is dead, brutally murdered. Inspector Banks is allocated the case and he soon has more suspects than he can handle. As he looks into Caroline's past he realises that secrecy was a way of life and her death is no different . . .
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on 2 January 2016
This is early Banks, from 1991, the third or fourth in what is now a long and absorbing series. It's a Christmas murder mystery, with all the police action taking place between 22 December and Twelfth Night, 6 January. In fact, a local production of Shakespeare's play features in the story, and there's lots of atmospheric weather which, it turns out, isn't irrelevant to the solution of the murder . . . but then, little is irrelevant in Robinson's well-plotted, atmospheric, and psychologically acute novels. I have only one reservation about this one, and it isn't giving anything away to state it: it ends in an old-fashioned "Poirot" manner, with Banks literally explaining to another character what happened at the time of the murder. In Robinson's later novels, our understanding of what happened is usually revealed through the final plot developments, so that explanation is unnecessary and everything is tighter. Still . . . my complaint isn't a very damaging one, and the novel has a lot of interest.

Robinson seems always to be seeking ways to undermine formulaic story-telling, and what he does here is interesting. Again, I can describe it without giving anything away. The victim is a young woman who has not lived for very long -- maybe a year or two -- in Eastvale. She is a lesbian, living, apparently quietly, with another woman, who ended her marriage to live with her. She grew up in Harrogate, not far from Eastvale, and Banks and his team have to make enquiries about her life there. But she left Harrogate for London in her late teens, and about the London years she has revealed little to her lover. So Banks has to go back to London, into the belly of the beast, so to speak, to try to find out about her life there -- and Banks fans will remember that it was the stresses of London policing that drove Banks to seek a quieter life in Yorkshire. So there are three distinct "periods" in the victim's life to be accounted for -- the Harrogate years, the London years, and the Eastvale years. The question is -- where is the impetus for murder to be found? In the present? the recent past? or in childhood? Or is it some weird combination? It's a great set-up for a mystery, and all avenues are explored. As usual with Robinson, the procedural aspects of police work are well attended to, and as usual too there is at least one subsidiary police character -- in this case the newly-minted Detective Constable Susan Gay -- whose insights and errors complicate and add interest to the investigation. Good stuff!
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Peter Robinson grew up in Yorkshire, and this is the author's fifth novel featuring Inspector Banks. He is the winner of numerous awards in the United States, Britain and Canada, and in 2002 he won the CWA Dagger in the Library. As I also come from Leeds the background to his stories is something that I have experienced first hand and because of this I have a special affection for his books. However they would be first class crime fiction wherever they were based. This particular novel is one of the author's earlier books in the series.

The scene looks like a typical Christmas in many households, a log fire, sheepskin rug, lights twinkling on the tree, the all is not as it seems. Caroline Hartley, the attractive woman lying on the couch is dead, brutally murdered. Inspector Banks is allocated the case and he soon has more suspects than he can handle. As he looks into Caroline's past he realises that secrecy was a way of life and her death is no different . . .
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