Monday, November 24, 2008

Review: Piece of my Heart

Piece of my Heart by Peter Robinson
4 stars

Reasons for reading: been on the TBR list for a while because of a long-ago good review; Mystery for the Triple 8 Challenge

Description: "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."

First line: "Monday, September 8, 1969 - To an observer looking down from the peak of Brimleigh Beacon early that Monday morning, the scene below might have resembled the aftermath of a battle."

My thoughts: This is the 16th Inspector Banks novel - I had no idea when I picked it up. While there are some references to previous events, such as the death of Banks' brother and his former involvement with a female colleague, I didn't feel as though I needed to have read the others in order to understand this one.

And I really enjoyed it! It's a great mystery and, as The Times remarked, it, "Brilliantly interweaves past and present." At first I was a tiny bit confused when it jumped to 2005, but I soon got the hang of it. I thought the 60's were painted very well and it made me remember I keep wanting my husband to teach me more about Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd. (I have a pretty big hole in my classic rock knowledge, sadly.) I thought both mysteries were interesting on their own and couldn't figure out how they were going to intersect, which added to the suspense.

There is a theme of fathers and daughters running through the novel, particularly how fathers want to protect their daughters and don't always manage it very well. I thought the supporting characters were well-done, particularly Banks' colleague Annie Cabbot and Winsome (isn't that a great name?), a Jamaican beauty in the department. While I often don't like side plots, the one Banks and his colleagues having to come to terms with a new, ambitious and not-particularly-friendly boss.

The only slight con? I've had Janis Joplin's "Piece of my Heart" running through my head on and off since I read it! :-)

I don't know if I want to go back 15 books, but I think this series could be really interesting.

1 comment:

alisonwonderland said...

i've really enjoyed this series. i have Piece of My Heart sitting right here next to my desk. i hope to get to it soon!