Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Review: Children of the Revolution by Peter Robinson

Children of the Revolution (Inspector Banks, Book #21)
by Peter Robinson
Release Date: March 25th 2014
2014 William Morrow
Hardcover Edition; 352 Pages
ISBN: 978-0062240507
Genre: Fiction / Murder / Mystery
Source: Review copy from publisher

3 / 5 Stars

The body of a disgraced college lecturer is found on an abandoned railway line. In the four years since his dismissal for sexual misconduct, he'd been living like a hermit. So where did he get the 5,000 pounds found in his pocket?

Leading the investigation, Detective Chief Inspector Alan Banks begins to suspect that the victim's past may be connected to his death. Forty years ago the dead man attended a university that was a hotbed of militant protest and divisive, bitter politics. And as the seasoned detective well knows, some grudges are never forgotten-or forgiven.

Just as he's about to break the case open, his superior warns him to back off. Yet Banks isn't about to stop, even if it means risking his career. He's certain there's more to the mystery than meets the eye . . . and more skeletons to uncover before the case can finally be closed.

My Thoughts
Children of the Revolution is the twenty-first entry in the Inspector Banks series and while I have been a huge fan for quite a while, this novel was definitely not my favourite one of the series.  Typically, Robinson's novels are quite compelling, and I am often worried for Banks who tends to push the boundaries of his job to the point I am always afraid he will finally take that one step too far and have to deal with the consequences.  As a result, I am usually on the edge while reading these books, but lately, it feels as if that 'edge' has disappeared and I am feeling a bit disappointed in the plot and the storytelling.   

One of the things where Robinson does shine is in his dialogue.  I thought he took a rather simple plot, embellished a couple of things quite skillfully, and pretty much drove the plot through his characters and their dialogue, a lot of it being rather witty and interesting.  Having been a long time reader of this author though, I thought he relied too much on this type of storytelling and I was a bit disappointed. It could be very easy to get caught up in that type of storytelling, but I was not willing to let go of the suspense I expected from a Robinson novel.  Yes, I get that Banks is a rebel, enjoying the fact that he can push everyone's buttons, likes to listen to a certain type of music such as Grateful Dead, and drinks an awful lot, but that gets old rather quickly.  I just find it stereotypical to assume that young people would not have heard of classical rock artists and other things from the sixties just because they are young, and again, that gets old fast.  Don't get me wrong, I like Banks a lot, but I would like to see some development in his character as that would make it far more interesting to read about as right now he just seems stale.  

The plot was definitely not as interesting as in previous books, and I was sad to see that Winsome and Annie did not feature as much in this one as I really like their characters.  I really felt like the author was reaching in this novel as Banks took chances that a seasoned professional really would not take, even if he was a rebel police officer.  And while I absolutely enjoyed the details of the setting as usual, it just didn't make up for the predictable plot that is not a trademark of this author.  The ending was interesting, and I did like it, but I wish it had that "omg" that is so characteristic of these novels.  It was rather humdrum and I found myself not really caring what choice Banks would make in the next novel, which would definitely not have been the case in previous novels.  That is rather telling, don't you think?

Children of the Revolution reminds of one of those novels that get pushed out there because an author is on a timeline to publish a novel under pressure.  It's not that thisis wasn't interesting as that is not the case; there were definitely parts of the novel that kept my attention and kept me riveted to the book.  The conclusion to this book could have been rather riveting and interesting, and quite controversial, as it put Banks in a very intriguing position, but for the first time, I felt that the author took the easy way out and I was rather disappointed as the unexpected and controversial is almost an expectation from this series.  I am hoping that the author takes his character Banks much more seriously in his next novel, Abattoir Blues, and please, bring back the suspense and the intrigue that long-time readers expect from this series.