I have been a huge fan of Peter Robinson’s Inspector Banks novels, relishing each new arrival, reading them quickly and then being so disappointed when I finish and have to wait for another one. Careless Love was no different… to start with. I gulped it down but, rather than eagerly awaiting the next instalment, I am left feeling a wee bit short-changed.
Let me explain why.
The crime is set up early in the novel – a young student is found dead in an abandoned car. It becomes evident that her body has been deliberately placed here as she didn’t drive and certainly didn’t own the car. A bit further along, a successful businessman is found dead at the bottom of an incline, apparently from a fall. Pretty soon, the inconsistencies in the two cases start to show some commonalities, as does yet another death. Add to this information Zelda, Annie’s father’s new partner gives to Banks and Annie one night, about the man who tried to murder Banks a few books ago, and the team is on the case – all of them.
So, it starts off so promising and then…it isn’t so much. Don’t get me wrong, the writing is tight, as one would expect from someone so practiced in their craft. Banks and Annie are mostly true to form, except, in what appears to be a bit of self-indulgence, Robinson has Banks bang on and on and on about his music – and when it doesn’t really fit the narrative and most certainly holds it up. In the past, it was sort of funny and quirky, Banks’s ad hoc musical references and preferences for certain types of (to most of us) obscure jazz and other artists. In this book, it interferes with and interrupts the narrative to the point of distraction. Further, Banks has also taken it upon himself to become familiar with poetry. OK. Poetry can function as a great analogy to the action of the novel, as a metaphor, or prolepsis… only, no. Not here. All the references to it do nothing to serve the story. Music and poetry, both of which show Banks to be sophisticated, I guess, do nothing except become great ellipses in terms of the narrative and overall action. Then there’s the fact a great deal of the book is taken up with interviews that go absolutely nowhere. I was left wondering where my beloved, feisty and clever Banks had disappeared to. It doesn’t help that he develops what’s tantamount to a pervy, middle-aged crush on one of the suspects that is both grating and borders on inappropriate. As a consequence of all this, I found this instalment to fall well short of expectations.
So, sadly, unlike previous books, I cannot make a song and dance about this one – not when Banks does that in almost every scene he appears. Well, makes a song of it, anyhow.
Nonetheless, I am looking forward to the next book in the hope that what Zelda has uncovered is explored, sans the unnecessary poetry and most of the musical references.