Can't help thinking that this Peter Robinson book is a hangover from the gentility mysteries written by Agatha Christie and Dorothy L. Sayers. It's full of references to class discrimination: the petty crooks are working class and stupid; the smart crooks are working class and vicious; the upper class are tremendous people, instilled with the wonderful values that only a privileged upbringing can provide. The dialogue between all characters, law abiding and criminal, is mostly polite and deferential to the point of twee, and Inspector Banks floats around in a surreal world of his own, continually congratulating himself on the success of his unorthodox detecting techniques. Perhaps an alternative title to the Banks series could be: It Shoudn't Happen to a Copper.
By comparison, Ian Rankin, James Lee Burke and Michael Connelly have created characters with lives and conversations that resonate with gritty reality. Rebus, Robicheaux and Bosch are on a journey through life; Banks is commuting.
And Robinson has the most irritating habit of parading his learning out of context. Inspector Banks is often reminded of what Milton said or Proust thought - sure, give me a break!
In one chapter, Inspector Banks is having a beer while he talks to a London copper about a villain he wants to obtain more information on. During the conversation, Banks modestly makes a mental note that the other copper is a racist, alcoholic while he, Banks, is still a compassionate, caring human being, branded a 'pinko' by his drinking colleague because of his socialist sensibilities. At that point I put the book down and picked up the latest Ian Rankin.