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Having read quite a few books written by Peter Robinson I was interested to try this collection of short stories the author had written. They are 11 stories in total and they were written at the request of various editors and some appeared in papers and journals.
==About the author:==
Peter Robinson is a very successful British author. He specialises in crime thrillers, with the majority of his 24 novels forming part of the Inspector Banks series. The book I am about to review was published in 2009.
==Synopsis about the book:==
Cornelius Jubb was a black American Service Man posted to Whitby in 1943. The story deals with the racism and injustice he finds when he walks into the local pub one night. It was a good start to the book and I felt had real meaning and purpose behind it and it developed in a way I had not expected and at just 26 pages a story I enjoyed because it made me think. 4/5
2.The magic of your touch
This was an unusual story that I thought could have easily be expanded and made more complex and interesting. It was about a band member who while out walking in an unfamiliar part of town listens to a man playing a tune he finds catchy and mesmerising. The man tells him the tune he is playing he has just thought up, so the band member steals it for his group. For me it lacked a killer punch and although it had a clear meaning it disappointed me overall. It was a good concept but failed to live up to my expectations. 2/5
3.The Eastvale Poker Circle
Is the first story that features Inspector Banks as the investigating officer. He is called when a man is found dead in his study having been murdered. While his wife and all her girlfriends were having a girls night playing cards. This story failed to grab my attention; I found it dull and one that really led nowhere. It needed more depth to really get into the murder or the suspects and was not really suitable for a story this short. 2/5
4. The Ferryman's Beautiful Daughter.
It is the 1960's and two teenage girls lives are about to change when a group of travellers arrive in their hometown. The girls are advised to stay away from these people but there is something alluring about them, especially when no one will say a good word about them. The two girls fall under their spell. For me this was the most interesting, well thought out story. It was so different and I thought the author used excellent imagination to bring to the surface all the prejudices of this community against these unwelcome visitors. It was unusual and thought proving 5/5.
5.Walking the dog
Deals with a married lady out walking her dog, who meets and falls in lust with a man she recognises from the television. Quite a simple story that I thought I knew where it was going only to be pleasantly surprised by it. A good story with a twist that I did not see coming and turned it into a far more interesting one. 3/5
6 Blue Christmas
Inspector Banks is not looking forward to Christmas this year. He is on his own and the only thing he is looking forward to is a rest. However a lady goes missing and he is called in to investigate. Although very short 22 pages I thought this was a good story and it had a real meaning as far as I was concerned. I think it helped already knowing Banks as a character but I still really liked the path the story took. 4/5
7 Shadow on the water
The story about a group of men who are listening to a story told by one of them on the eve of battle. The boy was playing truant from school with a friend when they meet an unexpected visitor. I felt this story was weak only 12 pages long and not enough time to know and understand the characters. Although it had a twist to it it was disappointing and its real meaning was lost on me. 1/5
8. The Cherub Affair
Is about a Private Investigator who suddenly finds himself looking into the murder when a beautiful lady wants her brother acquitted. When he has be found standing over her body with the murder weapon in his hands. This story failed to ever get going for me, again I liked the concept but I felt the story was too simple and easy. 2/5.
9.The Price of Love.
Told the story of a 13-year-old boy who wants to emulate his recently deceased father by joining the Police force. And how one day he decides he must try and find out more about how he died. I really liked this story it was easy to get into and the boy Tommy was a fascinating character and I liked the way the story developed in an unexpected way. 4/5
10. Birthday Dance
A little girl appears to be following in her mother's footsteps being a model and dancer. When it is a Birthday she agrees to do a special dance for her father but her mother makes an unusual request when he offers to give her whatever she wants. The story was unusual and one I did not particularly enjoy. I liked the characters but did not understand the point of the story. I kept expecting something very different to happen but was left frustrated by it 1/5.
11.Like a Virgin
Inspector Banks investigates the death of a prostitute in Soho. It is the 1980's and information and leads seem to be at a premium. However soon after there is another death and what links the women other than their profession is what the killer did to their bodies after they died. I found this a rich and rewarding story, it was a very good length 122 pages that allowed far more depth to be able to come into the story. As a result I found it very convincing and a well thought out story. It even had the opportunity of learning new things about Inspector Banks and I felt it was a good gripping detective story. 4/5
==My thoughts on this novel:==
I must admit I do not usually like short stories, basically because they are short and as such you do not usually have a complicated or deep story. For me this was one of the better ones I have tried and the majority of the stories were liked with crime and that is something that always interests me. Although I thought 11 stories were too much for one book I would have preferred less stories but longer ones.
For me what made the stories enjoyable was despite having the crime theme, they were all so different. So that in each your were presented with a different time span, location and very different characters. And with the stories being so different I think there was something here for everyone. There were stories of love, lust, greed but also deeper more thought provoking subjects such as racism and extortion.
Two of the stories involved Inspector Banks a character who I have got to know and like over the series of books in which he stars. I found these enjoyable as I always thought I would but it was good to see him write about different characters and concepts. This showed a different side of the author and showed he was more than a one trick pony.
What I found useful was the introduction to the book by the author. I found this useful to see the background to it and its nice to know what was in his mind and why he was doing this. And once he had told his stories I enjoyed the afternotes about each one, what made him write it and what was in his mind when he did so.
Some of the stories I felt could easily be turned into more complicated, twisting stories because the idea behind them was fascinating. While I did find a few of them disappointing and couldn't wait to finish them, the majority had all the right attributes and as a result I found I enjoyed what I had read.
Given the choice I will always read a full length crime or detective story, because not only do I like the twists and turns but I like to get to know the Detective involved and in a short story there is very little opportunity to do this and find out about the issues in their private lives. This I found was the case with all these stories with the exception of the last one, which was almost a third of the book. What impressed me with some of these stories was the author quite often managed to surprise me with an unexpected development, this added spice and often changed the ultimate direction of the story.
I thought all the stories were well written and I would think it would be really difficult for a writer who specialises in novels to convert to short stories, but Robinson does it well.
Overall I thought this was a good series of short stories and would recommend it as such. I liked the variety of the stories and felt there was always something interesting in almost every one. The only thing I would have preferred was a few lesser stories but longer ones, as the ideas behind them were good and I felt they could easily be expanded.
Publisher: Hodder Paperbacks
About the author: http://www.inspectorbanks.com/
Thanks for reading my review.
This review is published on both Ciao and Dooyoo under my user name.
© CPTDANIELS August 2011