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4.1 out of 5 stars
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on 12 November 2013
I am a great fan of Peter Robinson's earlier books such as 'The Summer That Never Was' and 'Friend Of The Devil' which are beautifully written and give a good sense of place and time, so this comes as a profound disappointment. There is little of the complex plotting and detailed descriptions of his previous work; instead we have undeveloped characters (even Annie and Winsome are one dimensional here) and an unlikely plot, with a vast amount of the book being taken up with endless speculation about whodunnit, often on the weakest of evidence. I genuinely found it difficult to finish and really did not care what happened in the end. If you are new to Peter Robinson start with the books mentioned above, not this one; you won't be disappointed.
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on 29 December 2013
This is the first time I have written a negative comment but was so disappointed with this book. I am a fan of Peter Robinson's books and have read all the previous Alan Banks stories so looked forward to the latest instalment. To put it simply, this book felt like it had been written by someone else, maybe the script writer for the TV series which is awful. Alan Banks has had a personality transplant: where is his caring, self questioning personality? His life and family outside work was mentioned in short, factual sentences but there was no emotion or feeling. He was more aggressive with witnesses and suspects with little balance. This was so the case with Annie Cabbot, again she read like a different person.

While I have really enjoyed this series of books maybe it would be better to call it a day than continue in this vein
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on 17 September 2013
Couldn't wait to finish this book, not because I was enjoying it, just wanted to move on to something else.
I have read all the Banks books and they were my absolute favourites until the last 2 books.
I totally agree with the reviewer who felt that the character of Banks in the book has been diluted to fit the TV character, who is absolutely nothing like the Banks in the previous books and very difficult to warm to.
The characters we had come to know, seemed mere shadows of their former selves, with no real substance, but lots of fairly boring padding on issues which were not always relevant to the story.
Would a senior police officer really have visited someone they were fairly certain had committed a murder, alone, without any backup?
Whilst I appreciate it must be difficult to maintain the very high standard of earlier Banks books, this was disappointing and probably my last Banks.
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on 11 January 2014
I've read every one of the Banks novels to date, and enjoyed most of them. They did go through a bit of a slump a few years ago, but seemed to revive somewhat thereafter. But, oh dear, this one is absolutely awful. Things that, in moderation, helped previously to flesh out Banks' character, now settle into an unremitting stream of wordy introspection of regrets from the past, resignation in the present and little hope for the future, all liberally sprinkled with a never-ending catalogue of favourite music tracks and alcoholic beverages! There is absolutely no action, just one lengthy chapter after another of conversations, discussions and interviews. I know that Robinson can still write ('Before the Poison' is excellent), but DCI Banks appears to be on his last legs. If you haven't yet discovered the 'Roy Grace' novels of Peter James, now is the time!
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on 20 June 2014
NOTE: SPOILERS AVOIDED. This is my first Peter Robinson novel, so I'm in no position to say whether or not this is better or worse than others in the Inspector Banks series. On its own merits, it's a solid piece of work, clearly written, cleverly plotted, and bringing together convincingly two different histories that need to be taken into account in the investigation of the murder of a disgraced lecturer at a provincial university. One of these histories goes back to the victim's student days in the early 1970's, and it captures something of the political climate in left-wing circles in the universities in the decade that would end with Margaret Thatcher in power. The other history is more recent, and it belongs to the world of political correctness and date-rape drugs. The victim's disappointments in both these periods are focused on as Alan Banks and his team dig into the case, which raises issues of class and privilege especially for the lower-middle class Banks, who has to deal with his own feelings about his success and about the ease with which others more fortunately positioned achieve theirs.

Banks is an appealing protagonist, with a touch of the Rebus about him, though he's not as scathingly dismissive of the hierarchy in his district (in North Yorkshire) as Rebus is of his superiors in Edinburgh. He drinks less than Rebus and seems to keep a tidier house, but Banks too is nearing retirement age, and whether retirement or promotion is in store for him is a question. Robinson does a particularly good job of creating a sense of the way in which a team of detectives work together on a case, and the women detectives in particular, to whose consciousnesses we have access, are individual and interestingly distinct in their own right. There are generational differences among them, as well as ethnic differences, and it all works together without seeming forced. There is the obligatory scene in which Banks (like Rebus) is hauled over the coals for unorthodox procedure and is pressured by his superiors to lay off the rich and powerful, and you can guess how that turns out. Thankfully, the worn-out trick of allowing the reader limited access to the consciousness of the killer -- while coyly avoiding identifying him or her -- is avoided. The only heads we are "inside" are those of detectives on Bank's team.

The ending has its predictable elements, and yet it does involve Banks in some interesting decisions, and the characters who fall within the orbit of suspicion -- and the victim himself -- have sufficiently complicated histories as to make moral judgments about most of them not always easy. The relatively rural setting has its part to play too, especially in the later chapters, although it lacks the specific cultural and political weight of Edinburgh in the Rebus novels. Nonetheless, the novel satisfies the criteria of a good procedural without reducing the characters of either the police or the suspects and their circles to mere moving parts in a plot mechanism. Ian Rankin at his best is perhaps an edgier writer and Rebus an attractively looser cannon than Banks, but this particular mixture of class, politics, drugs, sex, and deceit should give much pleasure.
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on 12 February 2014
Having read all of Peter Robinson's previous books I was looking forward to receiving his latest. What a bitter disappointment - it rambled, was padded, and I could not finish reading it as I was irritated with the amount of unnecessary content. I became completely bored with the amount of description and space taken to keep including the titles of pieces of music and the contents of everything in all rooms DCI Banks (or anyone else) entered - I just cannot see the relevance or necessity for us to have to wade through this each time before the story continues. My husband also read this and his opinion was that it was padded. I sincerely hope that Inspector Banks number 22 will get back on track - his 'Bad Boy' was particularly good. Sorry if I have put off potential new readers, but I have been asked for a true opinion.
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on 7 March 2014
There comes a time in many artistes’ life when they lose their hunger and their cutting edge, becoming instead bland and lazy. I recall it happening to Neil Diamond. Peter Robinson has now reached this point with DCI Banks. If Robinson wanted to show the tedium and mind-numbing banality of a police investigation, he certainly succeeded with Children of the Revolution. This book was just an endless series of interviews with coloured-by-numbers characters; at times I began to think I was reading a history of left-wing politics, especially the polemics delivered by Mandy Parsons and Joe Jarvis. Peter Robinson’s books normally sit under the genre of ‘Crime Thriller’, but where were the thrills? I’d have seen more action if I’d gone to watch Waiting For Godot with the actors ankle-deep in treacle. And why, oh, why are we constantly bombarded with references to the music that Banks likes and plays? The idea was quite novel (sorry for the pun) in the early books, but now it’s becoming wearisome. Add that to the casting of Stephen Tomkinson – who is to Banks what King Herod was for child-care – for the lead role in the TV series, and the whole franchise is starting to lose its lustre. Now what else can I find among W H Smith’s 100 top-selling books . . . . .?
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on 28 July 2014
I regret to say that when I reached the end of this book I threw it across the room in a rage! Just what is it with Peter Robinson and his insistence on providing Banks not only with girlfriends who are young enough to be his daughter (which is creepy enough, as another reviewer has pointed out), but, adding insult to injury, are so beautiful, talented, intelligent etc. etc. etc. that they are nothing more than clichés? Having got rid of the appalling Sophia a couple of books ago, we now find her reincarnated virtually unchanged, except that her accent has morphed from Greek to Italian. Enough already! Find Banks someone to love who doesn't make him look like a dirty old man, or - preferably- give the personal stuff a miss and concentrate on the plot.

From the moment she appeared in the book I had a dreadful presentiment that Banks would end up with this awful female, and that distracted me from the plot, which is a pity because otherwise it is rather good. I enjoyed the background of 1970s Britain (being a similar age to some of the protagonists, I remember it well!) and I liked the way the two strands, Eastvale and Essex, provided a contrast and left me not knowing which would be relevant to the murder. Also, I didn't guess the motive or the murderer until the
end, which I liked. Some crime novels are so predictable that you could write the ending yourself! A couple of disappointments: we seem to have returned to endless lists of obscure music that Banks has listened to (presumably to illustrate how superior his intellect is compared to the morons he has to associate with), and I didn't enjoy finding the c-word all over the place. However, it was a good read which caught my attention from the start, and if it hadn't been for the enraging but inevitable development in Banks's private life I would have given It four stars.
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on 6 March 2014
I'm a relative newcomer to the Banks series, but have to admit to liking them. I started off in the middle (Wednesdays Child), decided I should read the first (Gallows View) and then picked up this, the latest, at the airport. I must now start working through them to catch up.
I like detective stories that are set in Great Britain and written by British authors. Being an ex-pat living in Germany, I like the descriptions of the English weather, countryside, lifestyle etc. Susan Hills books please me in this way too.
I must say that after having read Gallows View and Wednesdays Child, I found this a little disappointing. It seemed to ramble on a bit, as others have reviewed too. I've not finished it yet, but will, and will certainly buy more of the earlier Banks stories.
I do like the references back to the 70s (being now 64), having lived through all of it - brings back memories!
I think too that Peter Robinson has a very similar taste in music to myself....the references to Live at Leeds and the Doors, for example. Whether these references are of any interest to a younger reader though is a moot point.
All in all I am enjoying this book, but feel, as one reviewer put it: it's time for Alan Banks to retire.
A book worth reading all the same and streets ahead of much of the American wham-bam crime stuff we get fed with these days.
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on 28 July 2014
I have every single one of Peter Robinson's Inspector Banks books on my shelf and have read them all so far with great enjoyment. I always look forward to a new Banks book with great anticipation. So it was very disappointing to find that this book is so unlike the earlier ones. I found it boring, with little action and long-winded introspective diatribes on politics, drugs, student life and the past. None of the characters seem as likable as before, they have all become snappy and bad-tempered. The constant references to music tracks have become very tedious. The same goes for the somewhat self-conscious references to recent TV programmes which seem to be put in just to show Robinson is up-to-date with British culture. Where are the descriptions of the beautiful Yorkshire countryside that used Children of the Revolution: The 21st DCI Banks Mystery (Inspector Banks 21)to make the books so enjoyable? Like many other true Inspector Banks fans I found the TV series a disaster and the normally brilliant Stephen Tompkinson, one of my favourite actors, totally unlike the Banks of the books - in either looks or character. Could it be that Robinson is now trying to write TV scripts rather than a jolly good, un-put-downable book? I do hope not, and I hope that the next outing for Alan Banks will revert to the previous style and quality
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