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Customer Review

18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great crime novel, 15 Jan. 2003
This review is from: The Summer That Never Was (The Inspector Banks series) (Hardcover)
Now, this is only my second taste of Peter Robinson. My first came when I eagerly read Gallows View the first Inspector Banks novel, and came away suitably impressed. Impetuous as I am, I decided to abandon series order and read this latest one. Naughty, but true. Needless to say, I am now positive that I have been missing out on a great series.
In the summer of 1965, Graham Marshall, a young boy and friend of Alan Banks, disappeared into thin air while on his paper round. Now, decades later, some human bones are unearthed not ten miles from his home. They are quickly identified as Graham’s.
Alan Banks is holidaying in Greece (recuperating from his last, affecting case) when he reads of the discovery of his old friend’s remains in a newspaper, and promptly decides that it’s time to return to see if he can lend a hand.
While all this is going on, another young boy disappears in Yorkshire, and while the dual cases are entirely unconnected, for Banks they still hold eerie similarities, as they echo each other across the gap of years. Then, curious memories begin to surface about his old friend. Memories which may have a bearing upon what happened, and memories that Banks now wants explaining…
It is clear that Chief Inspector Banks has remained the likeable, delightfully realistic protagonist that I met in Gallows View, and I suspect that for long-term fans it’ll be a great treat to meet, as we do in this book, his parents.
This is often a very nostalgic novel, giving us insight into Bank’s childhood at the same time as being both moving and haunting. The writing is clean and sharp, the plot is good (although nothing extra special) and structured well, he develops his characters adequately (in fact, I am probably missing out a little due to not reading the series in order), and they are very interesting. Although I would like to have got to know Michelle Hart a bit better. But then, I expect he’s storing that up for the next one… The police procedural aspects are handled with the skill and knowledge of a seasoned profession, and at times he certainly shows himself to be more than qualified to challenge such greats in the field of British police procedure as Ian Rankin and Reginald Hill.
The solutions to both parallel mysteries are satisfying and quite unexpected. Existing fans of Banks (and I now count myself most definitely among them) are sure to be pleased with this novel, as are readers new to him. (Although, those of you that are new to him, I would, in retrospect, recommend reading the series completely in order.)
Ian Rankin clearly has some hot competition following hot on his heels.
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