The latest in the Inspector Banks series by Peter Robinson, When the Music’s Over is a wonderful read. Tightly plotted, beautifully paced and without sacrificing character or the poetry of his prose, Robinson places the newly promoted Superintendent Banks on a specially assigned task force to investigate a cold case that has the potentially to erupt into a media storm. Drawing on recent cases of shocking and prolonged child sex abuse by well-known celebrities such as Jimmy Savile, and Rolf Harris, Robinson invents a character who is hideous in the extreme and indifferent to the pain and anguish he has caused over many, many years. When a dubious Banks is introduced to one of the famous perpetrator’s victims, 40 years after the (alleged) crime, he finds, much to his surprise, a credible witness. Believing her and wanting to see justice done, Banks pursues a case that at first seems hopeless, but gradually reveals a trail of horror.
In the meantime, Annie Cabot is assigned to a case where a young girl has been brutally murdered and her body left naked in a field. This case tests Annie and her team as it takes her to a small English town where racial tensions and the potential for violence to erupt with one wrong word or accusation simmers.
This is a terrific installment in a consistently strong and thrilling series. As usual, Robinson deploys music as a metaphor for much of the action and the emotions that are aroused as the cases progress and interpersonal and professional relationships are tested and explored and this book is no exception. Only, this time, he includes poetry as well and it’s beautifully done.
The novel also revisits the past and a time where life seemed less complex and is often constructed as a more innocent period. Robinson pays homage to nostalgia while at the same time revealing it to be a cruel furphy – mostly because he forces us to peel off the rose-colored glasses.
A great read – gripping, fast-paced and with the capacity to make you hold your breath as the desperate race to see justice served is run. Bring on the next Banks, please!