Friday, February 15, 2013

Some Thoughts on The Amazing Inspector Banks...[7-19]

The Inspector Alan Banks books By Peter Robinson

I have not reviewed a book in weeks. Yes, I was reading...and reading...not pausing to review.
See, I was reading book after book all in one series.

I can only remember it happening twice before in my life.
I get taken with an author and read book after book of theirs.

The first time was many years ago and the author was Dean Koontz.
Mr. Koontz, even more than a few years ago, had written many, many books and I read many of them, one after the other, dozens, for months.
At some point I started getting confused by editions of the same book reissued with different titles and stopped. While I have gone back and read his Odd Thomas series (excellent) and parts of his Frankenstein series, I have not read all his books. There are so, so many.

Then, a few years ago there was my time with Karin Slaughter. Gosh, you have to love that name, her real name, for a writer of mystery and mayhem. Hers I read, every one, over a course of a few weeks. I believe there are 12, plus an anthology called Like a Charm an a novella called Martin Misunderstood
I am a FAN.

And now there is Peter Robinson and his Inspector Banks series.
I had read a couple of Robinson's before, the latest ones that I got as review copies and wrote about,  Before The Poison, not part of the Banks series,  Bad Boy and Watching the Dark, which it seems I never reviewed. I enjoyed them very much, but for whatever reason did not so back and read the earlier ones. So many books, so little time perhaps. But I read a review of another of his books online recently, saw I could get an e-copy so easily and I was off.
Sadly, not in order.
I would read one, buy the next one back..and back...and back, until I got to Wednesday's Child, number 6 in the series and not available, as neither are the other early ones, as e-books.
So here I pause.

That is 12 of the series, I believe, that I have read in the last few weeks, not counting the last three that I read before. And they are all very good. Some better than others, but all quite nice, quite entertaining.

One thing about read book after book like this is that if the author has an annoying flaw, it will soon jump out. And it did not.
Yes, Banks goes on a bit too much about smoking in the early ones (perhaps a reflection of the author's own issue at the time?) and there is, it seems a lot of drinking of beer and Scotch, but that is Banks. I remember reading a review of the books that referred to Bank's personal life as a soap opera, but I do not agree. In the early books, he was married with two teenage children. His wife left him, he took it badly for a few books, he has had a few romantic involvements in later books, some not too well thought out. The ex-wife appears from time to time and his two kids, now grown up make several appearances, in small and large roles. Not terribly unreasonable for the years the books cover in my opinion.

What I do like about his books is that much of the framework remains the same and comfortable, Banks, a cast of secondary characters, the Yorkshire setting, yetbeach book is different in it's own way. And yes, almost all of them can stand alone. A sameness, yet with a freshness. Ideal.

Bank's is a very good character, smart and funny with an eclectic taste in music and books, and strong opinions about what makes a good pub. There are some excellent secondary characters over the years, from the nice to the not so nice, the smart to the not so smart and they come and go in a number of ways, from the ordinary to the horrific.

Perhaps one of my favorites is In a Dry Season, a good book to start with if you do not want to read them all. First, we will meet DS Annie Cabbot, a person of professional and personal interest in most of the books from there on. But I also like how the book was structured, going back to WWII to tell the beginning of the tale with narrator Gwen Shackleton, while Banks pursues the mystery of the skeleton they have found in a dried out reservoir. It turns out to be a girl named Gloria who it seems was Gwen's sister-in law.
With an excellent little twist at the end that I just loved.

Aftermath is another favorite, if a bit more gruesome than Robinson's other books.  Quite an excellent beginning, when a serial killer is found and killed, leading you to think the book is almost over as it begins. But fear not, it is just the start of a series of several different stories that the author weaves together very nicely indeed, with another excellent ending. And then you must read Friend of the Devil, which ties into the same story a number of years afterward.

In Cold is the Grave, we get to see another side of Banks' boss, the much despised Deputy Chief Constable 'Jimmy' Riddle, when his teenage daughter goes missing and he need Banks' help. Then in Strange Affair, we get to delve a little more into Bank's personal life when a call from his younger, very successful brother Roy sends his up to London on a wild chase that may tie into the dead body of a woman found near Bank's cottage with his name on a slip of paper in her pocket.

True, a couple are weaker in my opinion than others. Innocent Graves has a long sub-plot where a suspect is arrested, spends months in jail and goes to trial...honestly I found that all rather boring. But the weak points and the weaker books are far outweighed by the very good.
Here is a list in order, from where I ended, with number 7, up to the present, with another promising to be published this August.
I can not wait!

  • 7. Final Account (Dry Bones)1994)
  • 8. Innocent Graves (1996)
  • 9. Blood At The Root (Dead Right)(1997)
  • 10. In A Dry Season (1999)
  • 11. Cold is the Grave (2000)
  • 12. Aftermath (2001)
  • 13. Close To Home (The Summer That Never Was) (2004)
  • 14. Playing with Fire (2004)
  • 15. Strange Affair (2005)
  • 16. Piece of My Heart (2006)
  • 17. Friend of the Devil (2007)
  • 18. All The Colours Of Darkness (2008)
  • 19. Bad Boy (2010
  • 20. Watching The Dark (2012)
  •  Before The Poison (not part of the series)


  1. Wow, I don't think I've ever read so many books by an author back to back. I can see how it would make any flaws in the author's writing stand out.

  2. i found reading a series one after the other was the fastest way to finding out that the writer wasn't all that great at plotting ..

  3. Thanks for finally writing about > "Some Thoughts on The Amazing Inspector Banks...[7-19]" < Loved it!

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  4. I would actually rather read a good series the way you did than having to read and then wait a year for the next one. I'm impatient and I forget details if I have to wait too long for the next installment. I think I would like this series too...will add it to my list :)

    1. I have to agree...the plus of reading a series that already has several books in the bank. If you like a book, an author, it is so nice to know there are others waiting.


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