ARC received in return for an honest review.
It has been a while since I last read a DCI Banks novel but as with all the best British crime series you can pick them up at anytime and jump right into the story. Peter Robinson doesn't waste time going over previous books, certain events are alluded to but not in an overly detailed way that detracts from the story.
The blurb doesn't give all that much away about the story and I won't say too much about it myself as this is a book you should definitely go into not knowing all that much about it. Because what you get is a mystery that will leave you guessing, questioning every character you meet and wondering just what the hell is going on. And to mention how the plot would progress would ruin that experience. Two local men go missing. A caravan belonging to one of them is burned to the ground. A bloodstain is found at an abandoned hangar. DCI Banks and his team are initially introduced to these events through a stolen tractor. Major crimes it is not but the investigation leads them to something much bigger and soon their investigation really kicks off.
The first half of the book isn't particularly fast paced, but what Peter does best is fantastic characterisation and brilliant storytelling so the over the top scenarios you may find in other crime series (usually from the US) aren't needed. His characters aren't perfect, and all have their flaws but ultimately Banks has a pretty solid team of detectives all of whom are likeable and very easy to root for. I particularly like Annie Cabbot. Alongside that of course is the continuation of their personal lives, Banks in particular and his latest love interest. There's also a very funny comment from DCI Banks regarding ITV3.
As each of the events unfold the police and indeed the reader attempt to draw conclusions or guess what's going on from the information we are given, but this is a very complicated plot and I soon learnt not to trust anybody. There are many different pieces that the police are trying to put together in their hunt for the missing men and the truth behind some very shady circumstances. This is 'real' crime fiction. What we have here is a story that could easily happen in real life. Despite the slow start the book really goes up a notch towards the end as it nears towards an absolutely brilliant finish. A very solid instalment from Peter Robinson and a sure sign that the DCI Banks series has plenty of life left in it yet.
This is currently (January 2015) the latest in the DCI Alan Banks series and probably the most gruesome to date. The violence isn't overdone and the descriptions are factual but the facts are sufficiently repellent without any more detail. A pool of blood and bone fragments are found in a disused aircraft hangar, sufficient to indicate there may have been a murder committed there. But there is no sign of a body. A valuable tractor is stolen while its owner is on holiday and two young men seem to have disappeared. Are these disparate facts connected in some way or are they totally unconnected random events?
The plot twists and turns and I found I kept thinking various people were behind all the events and then deciding that they weren't connected at all. I didn't work out the correct solution at all until almost the end. This is a well plotted story with some interesting characters and it's good to see Alan and Annie Cabbot getting on better working together than they were doing.
If you like police procedural crime series then I can thoroughly recommend this one. I have read all twenty two of them without back to back without getting bored and that is the test of a good series in my opinion. I shall be looking forward to the publication of the twenty third later this year (2015)
on 2 August 2014
Two crimes seemingly unconnected evolve into a wider problem for Banks and his familiar colleagues. A stolen tractor, a pair of missing males of slightly dubious means and a burned out caravan form the basis for strands of investigation to come together and merge into something a who;e lot more wide scale.
Abattoir Blues is typical of the Peter Robinson pen. Plots are plausible, the individuals believable, though the regular tribulations within the personal lives of Banks and Annie Cabbot are not as prominent as previously. However this doesn't detract, and as expected the novel is easy reading and rapidly completed.
Abattoir Blues, Peter Robinson, Hodder & Stoughton, 2014, 369pp.
This volume in the Detective (Chief) Inspector Banks series begins with him on holiday in Cumbria (“Umbria! It was Umbria!”) so that the two incidents being reported and investigated at the start of the story are handled by the regulars of the team, who continue to share the spotlight even when Banks makes his return fairly early on, when one of the incidents is still only a mysterious bloodstain in a disused hangar. The other incident is a stolen tractor – a very expensive one, belonging to a ‘gentleman’ farmer, a youngish former city man who Banks dislikes on first sight, which is usually a good sign, but not in this case. Annie, who began investigating that particular crime, soon finds the trail leads to a missing farmer’s son, which leads on to more and more hidden depths as the story progresses. There is a murder hidden away in all this, but who and why are a long way down the road, as the police investigation of the two incidents slowly uncovers a widespread agricultural underworld of stolen equipment, rustled animals and illegal abattoirs. This is a police procedural story, not a thriller, but it is nevertheless thrilling and unputdownable – I just kept reading until gone one o’clock in the morning to finish it.
This is an ensemble cast, as everyone gets their part to play in the investigation, and their own time in the spotlight. Banks and Annie Cabot, with the senior roles, get equal time, if not slightly more to Annie and her own supporting cast, with Winsome Jackman getting her own little strand to work through, which will eventually blossom in the finale. The other regulars are also present, even “Dirty Dick” Burgess, who has been following the money at the London end of the investigation.
This is a police procedural story, as I said above, not an exaggerated thriller, but it still grips like a thriller, as the cast go about their investigations, and more and more mysteries, leads and information slowly builds up a tapestry, though with holes right to the end before it is all neatly tied-off.
From the first hint at the very beginning of the story that DS Winsome Jackman shows a romantic interest in one of her witnesses, you get a feeling that something is bound to go happen to her – at least I did. It was more of a “why is this happening at this particular point, it must mean something” kind of thing. And, in the final chapter, as she sets off alone to look at a lonely farm in the middle of nowhere, and the snow begins to fall, you can’t help thinking “here we go…”
on 10 August 2015
I always feel like Peter Robinson is one of those crime writers that always manages to write really well, and creates convincing, interesting characters in his DCI Alan Banks series. Therefore I was really shocked that he wasn’t included anywhere in the Top 20 list of WH Smith’s ‘Best Crime & Thriller Authors Of All Time’ (though I was pleased that Peter James topped the list) as this list is voted by readers and I think he’s written some brilliant novels to date.
Abattoir Blues (or In The Dark Places as it’s called being in America) is the newest DCI Alan Banks novel and follows the much-loved detective as he tries to track down the killer/s of two men, and subsequently thrown into the world of slaughterhouses and murder.
The story has a good amount of twists and turns and keeps you guessing as to how and why certain elements are connected. I definitely didn’t guess the ending and enjoyed reading about Banks piecing he puzzle together, as I always do! The story isn’t quite as engrossing as previous novels have been though- in my opinion the atmosphere isn’t quite as well crafted as usual, but the characters are as charming as ever. The writing and plot is great; the story is complex and moves at a fast pace that never left me feeling bored.
Robinson’s research is, as always, top notch and the story’s policing skills are completely convincing. I always forget that Robinson is not English, then I’ll read a particular word that reminds me of this, but nevertheless the character of Banks always makes me think of an English detective (like Peter James’ character Detective Roy Grace). From the knowledge he must have of Policing, I imagine that- at 22 books into this series- Peter Robinson could solve a murder as well as any trained Policeman (well, probably…!)
Reading about these well-loved characters is like visiting old friends every time a new one of these novels comes out!
Ultimately it comes down to the fact that the standard of Robinson’s books are just so high that this one didn’t quite impress me as much as I expected, but it is still a very good read!
** I received an advance copy of this novel in return for an honest review **
on 14 April 2015
The story focuses less on Banks, and more on other characters such as Gerry Masterson and Winsome. This allows us to observe character development of both, see a more personal side to Winsome and Gerry’s growing skills as a detective. It is seemingly a rather prosaic story beginning with the theft of a tractor which leads to far darker undercover elements and some really horrific moments. Probably the most graphic of the series - don’t read parts of this whilst eating!
There is also less emphasis on Banks’s music this time and only an allusion to his love life, and it is clear this one, Oriana, is not going to last. She seems exactly the same as the previous girlfriend, Sophia, and she seems “just not that into him”. Banks himself appears more reflective and a little jaded with the police life – though there is a part in the book where his mojo really comes to life and we can see that he still has it.
He doesn’t really seem to know what he wants in his personal life. Is that why he goes for unsuitable girlfriends? He drinks too much and acknowledges the job was what saw off Sandra, and now as no relationships have ever gone anywhere, has he realised his first love is his job and this is why he has chosen unsuitable relationships that won’t work out?
There are some very good descriptions – of the landscape, the weather, and the bleakness. The story may not have worked so well in the summer as not only was the weather key to the plot, it emphasised the dreariness of what was going on. When Banks was playing Nick Drake the song Northern Sky was perfect as an illustration of the weather.
Also there are some excellent examples of detective work and real team work. “Dirty Dick” still grates on me, in his usual inappropriate and sexist way – the guy has never grown up.
Always intriguing for me, this is another book showing brilliant police work tying everything together and picking up on the smallest idea that could bear fruit. I hope the series continues to run and run. 4.5.
"Abattoir: French, from abattre to fell
A slaughterhouse, abattoir i/ˈæbətwɑr/ or meatworks is a facility where animals are killed for consumption as food. Slaughterhouses that process meat not intended for human consumption are sometimes referred to as knacker's yards or knackeries." Wiki
We find DCI Banks returning from a vacation with a new love, Oriana. Everyone in the station seems to know about his love life, DI Annie Cabbot, DC Doug Wilson, DS Winsome Jackman, and DC Gerry Masterson. We know many of them from prior books, but now we get to know them a little better, professionally and personally. An exArmy man gas found what he thinks is blood in an old abandoned hangar, and what at first glance looks like human blood turns into a crime scene. This is a very original storyline. I don't think I have ever read about abattoirs and animal stun guns, and I found it fascinating if not gruesome at times. DI Cabbot is a vegetarian and after this case, I wonder if others turn off from meat, also.
This is the 22nd DCI Banks book, and the author, Peter Robinson has written a remarkable novel. Not the best, but quite acceptable and kept my interest. I think the author has a real knack for crime stories and his knowledge and research into this area certainly shows in his novels. I found several instances of sexist behavior and discussion between Banks and his colleague, Burgess were off putting, but that must be their behavior off hours. A lot of wine is consumed with this criminal team, but it seems to go with the society in which we live. The countryside surrounding North Yorkshire can be bleak and cold, and that comes through loud and clear in the storyline. Some of the murders in this case were brutal, but to prove a point they were well written. It would be nice to see Banks happy and content in a relationship, but as we know his job will always be his first love.
Recommended. prisrob 08-20-14
This is Robinson at his best; a complex, multilayered plot, which is very dark and gruesome, set in the atmospheric surroundings of rural Yorkshire. Indeed, Robinson uses remote locations to heighten the drama and make the plot yet more sinister. Two young men are missing, suspected of being involved in the theft of a very expensive tractor. This spirals into a case of murder, organised rural crime, sadistic violence and big business. It works particularly well because Robinson finds opportunity to explore a number of subsidiary themes involving strong characters, notably the tension between the older farming community and a rich incomer, and the prejudices against one of the missing men's partner and her child, living on a council estate. This latter aspect is central to the development of the novel, as Annie Cabbot has her stereotypes challenged and comes to champion the cause of this young family. Banks himself is on good form; though he has a new girlfriend, from the previous novel, this aspect of his life takes more of a back seat here,as he's drawn into the case. His team is flourishing and work well as a collection of strong characters, adding depth, humour and interest to the novel.
on 7 November 2015
I've read all the Banks books and this one is jusk ok compared to other Banks books. The plot did not grip me as others have done, it was average at best.
Banks books are read on two levels, the story (plot of the current book) and Banks and Annie's personal lives. Not much happened in this book that change the personal side of things and the average plot with an ending which left me not really caring who the killer was, left me glad I got to the end of the book. First time that has happened to me with a Banks book.
That said, the last quarter of the book did pick up with a side plot involving another regular character. It also seem to suggest, in the last few pages that Banks is getting to old for Annie.
The Banks character is facing the same dilema that faced Rebus and Resnick. Harvey retired Resnick gracefully but Rankin still plods on. This could work if the stories become more plot driven and less character based.
22 books telling us about Brian, the blue lamp's, Tracy, Sandra, the past relationship with Annie, the 'I can still get but can't keep girlfriends at my age' Banks, and the entertainment room and the never endings reference to Peter Robinsons music knowledge and taste told to us through Banks is reaching overload. More so now that we are being told about all the classical stuff and not so much the earlier pop music of the 60s and 70s which was used to link us to Banks past.
Banks is 64 next year, maybe it's time to see some changes.
on 28 March 2015
I've now read the entire Banks series, and for the most part I've enjoyed them, including Abattoir Blues. It takes some ingenuity to come up with good plots 22 times over, but Peter Robinson has managed it. Don't get me started on the TV series, never in the history of adaptations has the hero been so miscast! The character of Banks has developed nicely, but why does he ALWAYS have to be looking for a girlfriend? I liked Morse better, solitary man who took care of his needs when required, but Banks is always looking for love. The fact that he's apparently still finding it in his mid-50s is remarkable, and smacks slightly of the author's wishful thinking.
Anyway, Abattoir Blues is as good a story as any of the others, and I like the development of some of the other characters. I hope there will be more. Will Banks get his promotion, or will he retire and take up bee keeping? Will Winsome get her man without drop-kicking him this time? Will Annie at last find love, and who with? I want to know! Keep writing, Mr Robinson, and I'll happily keep reading.