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.
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.