three-and-half-stars
Bookmarks Issue: 
24-Sept-Oct-2006
user_rating: 
0

A Novel of Suspense

A-Piece of My HeartPeter Robinson’s recurring character Chief Inspector Alan Banks investigates the murder of Nick Barber, a music journalist working on an exposé of the classic rock band Mad Hatters (a fictitious cross between Spinal Tap and Pink Floyd). That present-day investigation parallels a flashback to 1969, when Stanley Chadwick, Banks’s then-counterpart in the force and a critic of the ‘60s counterculture, investigates the homicide of a young woman during the Brimleigh Festival (think Woodstock). The threads link across time, and the contrast between the social attitudes and the detective styles of Banks and Chadwick offers a study of two different eras.
Morrow. 336 pages. $24.95. ISBN: 006054435X

Plain Dealer 4 of 5 Stars
"Piece of My Heart is much more than just another clever British mystery. … Robinson’s book is a thrilling … trip back in time." Laura DeMarco

New York Times 4 of 5 Stars
"Robinson expertly brings his little postage stamp of native soil to life. … Chief Inspector Banks remains a flawed but decent man, the type of person encountered in real life commonly enough, but rarely seen in fiction." Jim Windolf

South FL Sun-Sentinel 4 of 5 Stars
"Robinson’s novels take insightful looks at what happens to people and the times when violence enters the picture. … Piece of My Heart is a highlight of 2006." Oline H. Cogdill

Miami Herald 3.5 of 5 Stars
"The ‘60s investigation suffers slightly when set against the modern-day mystery, mostly because we’ve formed a deep attachment to the likable Banks. … But Robinson paints a vivid picture of the late ‘60s music scene, the radical excess of the period, and the consternation that sex, drugs, and rock and roll caused in conservative England." Connie Ogle

Washington Post 3 of 5 Stars
"The ending of Piece of My Heart is spectacular but not believable. … Give [Robinson] credit for an ambitious concept—two related, past-and-present murders, plus a look at ‘60s rock-world decadence—but less would have been more." Patrick Anderson

Critical Summary

Erstwhile poet Peter Robinson and Chief Inspector Alan Banks have been inseparable for two decades, and Robinson continues to provide fresh insights into a character whom reviewers liken to a detective Everyman, "cagey and observant, but … not the brainiest sleuth in crime literature" (New York Times). The author’s strength has always been his ability to create strong, believable characters while maintaining the pace of his plots. In Piece of My Heart, his 16th novel and the 14th featuring Banks, Robinson deftly intertwines related murder investigations in the context of popular music and social upheaval. Both veteran readers and newcomers will appreciate this latest effort.