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Piece of My Heart - Peter Robinson
This Inspector Banks crime novel by Peter Robinson is intriguing in more ways than one. The title, Piece of My Heart, can be interpreted literally or metaphorically or both - and the intrigue begins right there!
Robinson adopts an unusual style in writing this crime novel. He discusses two separate crime situations that were years apart and does so by alternating the description of events and dialogue. Unlike many other novelists that attempt to discuss two crime investigations simultaneously, Robinson alternates the discussion within each chapter (not by introducing a new chapter each time). This could be very confusing for the reader. However, he cleverly uses the lead investigators in each case, DCI Chadwick and DCI Banks, to let you know what investigation is under discussion. While this approach adds some initial complexity to the reading of Piece of My Heart, it also maintains interest and adds intrigue by introducing new leads and lines of inquiry from the different crime investigations.
What is also intriguing is that the earlier investigation is set in the 60's when bands like Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd and Fleetwood Mac were all the rage. In fact, this earlier investigation is centered around the activities of a band called, The Mad Hatters. So you are immediately thrown into the music scene of this era and the tensions as new bands attempt to make good and stay at the top of the music charts.
The discussion of the early crime situation has some amazing twists and turns and highlights the tensions of the day in an era of sex, drugs and Rock & Roll. It also brings into sharp relief the resultant family tensions as sons and daughters "go off the rails" and join hippie groups and a life dedicated to free love, peace and, often, squalor. This tension is seen through the eyes of DCI Chadwick with respect to his daughter and raises the very real issue of potential injustice arising through a detective becoming too personally and emotionally involved in an investigation.
All the time, as the two crime investigations unfold, you are left wondering whether they are connected and what the connection could possibly be. These abiding questions and potential connections add to the intrigue of the book.
When you first start reading the novel, you find that description of the key characters is sacrificed for the sake of sharing the facts in an alternating manner. However, towards the latter part of the book, the characterization is very rich and gives insights both into the way the investigations are conducted and the resolution of the crimes. As an added bonus, Robinson adds a Facebook-like profile of DCI Banks in the form of a Postscript.
Piece of My Heart is intriguing from beginning (the very title) to the end. I'm certainly looking forward to reading one of my Christmas gifts, Peter Robinson' s new book - Children of the Revolution.
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