Reading one of Peter Robinson’s Inspector Banks books is like wearing a pair of comfortable shoes or slippers – it feels good, comfortable, and is always reliable in terms of character, plot and pacing. So it is with The Summer That Never Was, a story that allows regular readers of the series a rare insight into Bank’s childhood and adolescence and the forces and peoplethat shaped him.
One of the most significant of these was the mysterious disappearance of his close friend, Graham Marshall, who at fifteen years of age, while in the middle of his newspaper run, vanished and was never found. The impact of this on Banks and the gang he mixed with is profound. When bones are discovered nearby over 25 years later, and are identified as Graham’s, Banks cuts short his Greek isle idyll to not only bury his friend and to a degree, past, but uncover who killed his mate and, more importantly, why. But the case is not in his jurisdiction, not that this prevents Banks getting involved. When reputations begin to crumble and egos clash, and Banks discovers links to some of the biggest names in crime, he also understands that this isn’t just about the murder of a young man years before, but something deeper, darker and, as events unfold, more deadly as well.
Parallel to this case is one Annie Cabot is in charge of – the kidnapping and ransom of a minor sport’s celebrity’s step-son. Suspicious from the beginning, Annie fails to follow rules and thus opens the door for tragedy to step in… But is it Annie’s fault? Or is something more sinister operating here as well?
A page-turner par excellence, The Summer That Never Was is a trip down a Banks kind of memory lane, nostalgia tinged with ever-present danger reminding readers that the past can return and in ways that make its presence felt.
A terrific read. As usual.