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Piece of My Heart [Paperback]

Peter Robinson
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

April 27 2010
Piece of My Heart is Peter Robinson’s outstanding sixteenth novel in the acclaimed Inspector Banks series. Richly textured with the music and conflicting mores of 1960s Britain, the story weaves between two eras as it explores just how dangerously things can go awry when one generation is estranged from the next, when fathers no longer understand their daughters.

The novel opens in 1969. Yorkshire’s first outdoor rock festival has just finished, and the psychedelic pastoral band the Mad Hatters and other top British groups have departed. Even the last of their fans has gone, leaving behind only a muddy field, littered with rubbish. Volunteers are cleaning up when one of them finds the body of a young woman inside a sleeping bag.

Stanley Chadwick, the straitlaced detective called in to find her killer, could not have less in common with — or less regard for — the people he now has to question: young, disrespectful, long-haired hippies who smoke marijuana and live by the pulsing beats of rock and roll. And he has almost just as little in common with his own daughter, who lied to him about her whereabouts and slipped off to the festival.

More than thirty-five years later, Inspector Alan Banks is investigating the murder of a freelance music journalist who was working on a feature about the Mad Hatters for Mojo magazine. This is not the first time that the Mad Hatters, now aging rock superstars, have been brushed by tragedy, and Banks has to delve into the past to find out exactly what hornet’s nest the journalist inadvertently stirred up.

This eagerly awaited novel showcases the many reasons why Peter Robinson is among the small elite of authors internationally whose mysteries are nothing less than works of art.


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From Publishers Weekly

Det. Insp. Alan Banks investigates the apparently motiveless murder of Nicholas Barber, a rock journalist from London visiting a small town near Banks's Yorkshire police precinct, in Robinson's less-than-stellar 14th novel to feature the Yorkshire police detective. Meanwhile, another mystery unfolds in a parallel narrative, the fatal stabbing of a young woman at a local rock festival back in 1969. Needless to say, the cases are intertwined—as Banks puts it, "the past is never over"—and part of the pleasure is trying to piece together the links. Unfortunately, Robinson takes too long to connect the two stories, and the earlier thread suffers from the lack of Banks's engaging presence (though it does capture, with great fidelity, that odd mixture of self-absorption and idealism of the late 1960s and the whole hippie/rock music scene). As always, the author's prose is clear, observant and intelligent, but the story itself is not nearly as compelling as 2005's Strange Affair. 6-city author tour. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Review

“First rate . . . an addictive crime series . . . bet you can’t read just one.”
New York Times

“Peter Robinson takes the straightforward police procedural and transforms it into something approaching art.”
Calgary Herald

Praise for Strange Affair:

“Moody, atmospheric, exciting and deftly plotted. Another explosive read from Robinson.”
Hamilton Spectator

“Magical storytelling. What [Peter Robinson] produces here is extraordinary.”
Ottawa Citizen

“Peter Robinson builds a mean mystery.”
Montreal Gazette

“The best Banks book in years.”
Winnipeg Sun


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Most helpful customer reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars DOUBLE MYSTERY FROM A TOP WRITER June 13 2006
By Gail Cooke TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
Thought you'd left the `60s rock `n roll scene far behind? Not so in Peter Robinson's remarkably conceived crime story in which he connects two criminal investigations - one which takes place in 1969 and the other in 2005.

Seems that in the earlier case a young woman was found dead in her sleeping bag following a music festival. She had been murdered and was discovered among the bottles, drug paraphernalia and other leavings common to a British outdoor concert at that time. As it turns out she was slain during a Led Zeppelin set. Who was she and why was she killed? All readers initially know is that she had some dealings with a fictional rock band, the Mad Hatters.

This doesn't seem at all the type of crime usually associated with Robinson's popular protagonist Detective Chief Alan Banks. At the present he has more than he can handle. As readers of Strange Affair may remember Banks recently lost his brother, and now he is called to investigate the murder of a stranger who came to Yorkshire a short while ago and then was fatally crowned with a poker.

As it turns out the journalist was working on a piece for MOJO magazine about the Mad Hatters. And, what a band they were - one member went over the deep end (mentally), another drowned in the shallow end of a swimming pool.

Thus are Banks and Detective Inspector Stanley Chadwick, who was assigned to the dead girl's case, drawn together and readers are treated to twin narratives as the mystery of why there is any connection between the two murders is revealed.

Two mysteries for the price of one, both crafted by one of the best writers around.

- Gail Cooke
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5.0 out of 5 stars Piece of my Heart a Strong 5-Star Read Sept. 17 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Peter Robinson is a favourite author of mine and I especially enjoy his Alan Banks series, which includes "Piece of my Heart." This book was top-notch as he moves back and forth between the sixties and Alan's time. Robinson builds his story with the deft skill and attention to detail that he demonstrated in "A Dry Season," which is a personal all-time favourite of mine. This novel is two books in one and beautifully interwoven with music as its thread. If you lived in the sixties or just like the era's music, this book has lots of appeal!
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Amazon.com: 4.4 out of 5 stars  61 reviews
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A solid entry, but not the best we know of Peter Robinson. Sept. 22 2006
By A. J Thompson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Two murders, two different periods of time and two different investigating officers. In the present day Yorkshire we have Detective Chief Inspector Alan Banks puzzling over the killing of a visiting music journalist. In the last heady days of the 1960's Detective Inspector Stanley Chadwick battles to keep the problems at home muddying the waters of his murder investigation into the death of a young woman at a fields rock concert. The up and coming stars of Chadwick's 1969 have had their day and in the present day of Banks, they're now retired veteran rock gods. The times have changed but Bank knows his Yorkshire and its people well enough by now to be certain in his belief that old crimes can never truly be forgotten.

Chadwick has a dual agenda as a parent when he assigns his crew to what might seem an impossible task - pinpointing one killer in a cast of thousands that attended an open air rock event with multiple bands and attendees. It is difficult enough to keep tabs on his own daughter who is embracing, at what he deems to be a very young age, the morality free and responsibility free lifestyle of the 1960's hippy culture. Chadwick relies on process, tried and true methods and the elimination of suspects one by one. It proves rather hard to achieve this when the people he investigates are barely aware of what they themselves did that night, let alone the activities of anyone else.

The modern day dilemmas of Banks mirror those of his predecessor in that he has a child connected with the music industry and that his murder suspects are cagey, at best. The common elements in the two crimes are what drive Banks to re-open what was supposed to be a previously resolved murder enquiry in order to get to the truth of his own.

Some of the frustration readers have expressed with this novel is that it is not much of a whodunit. Robinson has had a lot of time to craft and flesh out DCI Banks and tends not to waste time on giving his character, and thus the reader, pointers of how to behave and process. They have already been established in previous novels and what we have here is a current snapshot of where the character is in his life story. The mirror past narrative of Chadwick does, however, serve well to add much needed colour to the novel and is done, we feel, with much affection for the era and its influence on the modern day in this particular part of the world.

PIECE OF MY HEART will of course appeal to the readers of the series while not being the stellar entry in it so far. It is classic procedural Banks but even with the addition of the 1960's storyline this novel tends to progress rather ponderously with little to reward the reader for their efforts at resolution. It lacks any real sense of suspense and sadly, no twists and turns are included to race the novel towards conclusion. Acknowledged, they are not always required, but would have been a welcome inclusion in this rather bland effort from a very successful novelist well known for his rich characterization, meticulous plots and moody, sombre tones.

PIECE OF MY HEART is the 16th novel in the Detector Inspector Alan Banks series.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "It's an absurd and arbitrary world." June 13 2006
By E. Bukowsky - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Peter Robinson's "Piece of My Heart" features two murder investigations that are separated by more than three decades. In a series of flashbacks from 1969, Detective Inspector Stanley Chadwick searches for the killer of a beautiful young girl who was found stabbed to death after a rock concert. In the present, Detective Chief Inspector Alan Banks teams up with Detective Inspector Annie Cabbot to solve the homicide of a freelance music journalist named Nick Barber who was murdered in a Yorkshire cottage. What, if anything, connects these two seemingly unrelated cases?

This mystery is a wonderful vehicle for the versatile and enormously talented Peter Robinson to explore a variety of themes that he has dealt with time and again in this highly praised series: What are some of the ways in which the past intersects with the present? Why do parents who want nothing more than to protect their teenaged children alienate them and even provoke them into committing self-destructive acts? How do political considerations wreak havoc with a murder investigation? As always, the author's beautifully evocative word pictures create indelible images. Nobody describes Yorkshire and the people who live there better than Peter Robinson.

Alan Banks has matured greatly over the years. He has quit smoking, drinks moderately, is more circumspect in his love life, and cuts fewer corners professionally. However, he is still insightful, aggressive in conducting interviews, and unwilling to take abuse from his superiors. He remains a dogged and tenacious investigator who generally gets his man. Banks's counterpart in the sixties, DI Chadwick, is a World War II veteran with horrible memories that he cannot quite eradicate. He is also the worried father of a rebellious sixteen year-old-girl who runs with a fast crowd. Chadwick's professional detachment is shattered by his personal distaste for the devotees of the counterculture. Whereas Banks is liberal, open-minded, and realistic, Chadwick is opinionated, narrow-minded, and inflexible.

Robinson spends a great deal of time delving into the psyches of rock musicians and their groupies as well as of the friends and relatives of the dead journalist. Did the chaotic social scene back in the sixties foster a climate of peace and love or of anarchy and violence? One of the characters sums up the situation this way: "Strip away that thin veneer of civilization and convention, of obedience and order, and what do you get--the beast within."

The solutions to the crimes become apparent only after Cabbot, Banks, and their colleagues conduct numerous interviews and do an exhaustive amount of research. Two minor quibbles are that the book is a bit too long and some of the facts that emerge at the end come out of left field. Still, "Piece of My Heart" is a fully realized and complex suspense novel that goes well beyond a mere whodunit.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good read. Aug. 22 2006
By Patricia Gribben - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I am a great fan of Peter Robinson's Alan Banks mysteries. In this one, we are taken back and forth from 1969 to the present as the threads of two seemingly unconnected cases weave a whole cloth. This book, while not quite as fascinating as some of Robinson's previous ones, held my interest. The characters are well drawn and their continuing story makes this book satisfying for fans of the series.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Robinson Rocks! July 7 2006
By J. Jacobs - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
If you haven't read Peter Robinson's Alan Banks stories, don't start with this one. Go back to the beginning (Gallows View)and read them all in order. Robinson developes his characters slowly over time, allowing them to change and grow. Each book adds to the understanding of the people, history and environment of contemporary England. By the time you get to Piece of My Heart, Inspector Banks will surly have won a big piece of your heart, and you will have discoved a wonderful, diverse group of characters that seem like family and friends. I haven't enjoyed a protagonist this much since McDonald's Travis Magee roamed Florida.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Solid Installment Aug. 4 2006
By Norrcorp - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Robinson goes back to the premise he used in his earlier novel "In a Dry Season", moving back and forth in time between the present and the time of a long unsolved murder (although I don't believe he pulled it off as well this time).

In this book, the long unsolved murder occurred during a "Woodstock" like music festival in the late 1960s. In the present day, a journalist researching a band that played at the festival is murdered. This leads to a re-opening of the earlier investigation.

As I said in my title, this is a solid installment by Robinson, but not his best. I actually enjoyed the first 2/3 of the book quite well, but the ending is somewhat unsatisfying. A slight "thumbs up".
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