Robinson, Peter. Children of the Revolution.

NY: Morrow, 2014.

Yorkshire homicide CDI Alan Banks gets called out early one winter morning to investigate the broken body of Gavin Miller, found below a bridge on a remote and obsolete rail line, and the large quantity of money in his pocket and the various contusions make it clear this was no accident. Miller, who never really outgrew the 1960s, was not an easy person to know.

But Banks and his team soon develop evidence that he was railroaded out of his teaching position at Eastvale College by completely unsubstantiated accusations of sexual misconduct. (All it takes in today’s climate is the bare accusation of bad behavior, that’s true enough.)

Robinson does police procedurals at the most fundamental level, showing how slow, sometimes plodding, research can build a case. Banks and his partner, DI Annie Cabot, plus the two other female detectives who now make up his team, spend most of their time interviewing people, developing a biography of Miller and also of the people he knew throughout his life (most homicides aren’t committed by strangers), and talking over and thinking about what they find. This process takes Banks to the mansion of an aristocratic romance novelist and her multimillionaire theatrical producer husband, and the behavior of their family sets his class-conscious teeth on edge. Then there’s the aging miners’ union leader whom Banks’s father regards as a hero. And there are all Miller’s present-day associates, personal and academic, to be sorted through.

The problem is that Banks is nearing retirement and maybe Robinson is, too, with this 21st novel about the detective. The pace is slow, even for the plot’s methodical style. And we spend way too much time hearing the details of what Banks is listening to on CD, and how he assumes that only those who personally experienced the ‘60s will pick up on his culture references. (I’m older than Banks and I missed a lot of them.) Annie, who is still recovering psychologically from having nearly been shot to death in the previous book, is sort of going off the rails, which results in her being a not very likeable person. And the new addition to the team, a gorgeous young DC who resembles a pre-Raphaelite artist’s model, is simply too good to be true. Not to mention Lady Ronnie’s friend and assistant, Oriana, who is equally beautiful. Robinson is simply trying too hard this time.

And I have to say, I don’t approve at all of the way Banks willingly ditches the investigation on orders from his political masters, simply because he personally likes some of those involved whose lives might be upset if the whole story came out. Suppressing the facts in a murder case, whatever the motivation, just isn’t on. John Rebus certainly wouldn’t do something like that, not for anyone.

Published in: on 10 October 2014 at 5:05 am  Comments (1)  
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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. Thanks for this review!

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