Piece of My Heart (Inspector Alan Banks Series #16)

Piece of My Heart (Inspector Alan Banks Series #16)

3.9 15
by Peter Robinson

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New York Times bestselling author Peter Robinson’s Chief Inspector Alan Banks must turn to a murder committed in the 1960s in order to solve a present-day homicide as he races to uncover their common link.

1969 . . . In an era of free love and rebellion, a dead body is discovered among the detritus of a recently concluded rock festival—a


New York Times bestselling author Peter Robinson’s Chief Inspector Alan Banks must turn to a murder committed in the 1960s in order to solve a present-day homicide as he races to uncover their common link.

1969 . . . In an era of free love and rebellion, a dead body is discovered among the detritus of a recently concluded rock festival—a beautiful young woman stabbed so savagely through the chest that a piece of her heart was sliced off.

Now . . . A freelance journalist, a stranger to the region, is savagely bludgeoned to death in a shocking act of violence with no apparent motive.

Two murders separated by four decades are investigated by two very different but equally haunted investigators—one, a casualty of war unable to come to terms with a confusing new world; the other, a rogue policeman harboring ghosts of his own. But the truth behind a grisly present-day slaying may somehow be hidden in the amplified, drug-induced fog of a notorious past, propelling Detective Chief Inspector Alan Banks into the darkest shadows of the peace, love, and rock 'n' roll generation.

A complex, multi-layered thriller, Piece of My Heart once again attests to Peter Robinson’s incomparable storytelling genius.

“Keeps you turning the pages into the night.… [Chief Inspector Banks is] good company.”—New York Times Book Review

Editorial Reviews

Stephen King
“The best series now on the market.”
Michael Connelly
“Wonderful...multi-layered mystery.”
Ian Rankin
“Prepare for a crash course in taut, clean writing and subtle psychology.”
London Times
“Robinson has kept up an astonishingly high standard...make no mistake, he’s among the very best.”
Washington Post Book World
Raleigh News & Observer
“A fast-moving story [with] some knockout scenery and an assemblage of delicately drawn characters.”
Janet Maslin
Banks is one of the most fully drawn figures in this genre of fiction, largely because Mr. Robinson invests him with so many opinions and such a firmly rooted presence in the real world. This character's unassuming nature is a dryly humorous part of his appeal.
— The New York Times
Publishers Weekly
Det. Insp. Alan Banks investigates the apparently motiveless murder of Nicholas Barber, a rock journalist from London visiting a small town near Banks's Yorkshire police precinct, in Robinson's less-than-stellar 14th novel to feature the Yorkshire police detective. Meanwhile, another mystery unfolds in a parallel narrative, the fatal stabbing of a young woman at a local rock festival back in 1969. Needless to say, the cases are intertwined-as Banks puts it, "the past is never over"-and part of the pleasure is trying to piece together the links. Unfortunately, Robinson takes too long to connect the two stories, and the earlier thread suffers from the lack of Banks's engaging presence (though it does capture, with great fidelity, that odd mixture of self-absorption and idealism of the late 1960s and the whole hippie/rock music scene). As always, the author's prose is clear, observant and intelligent, but the story itself is not nearly as compelling as 2005's Strange Affair. 6-city author tour. (June) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
It's 1969, and a body has been found in a field after an outdoor rock festival. Detective Inspector Stanley Chadwick, a hardened and uncompromising man with a frank distaste for the counterculture crowd, is assigned to the case. In Robinson's (Strange Affair) latest series entry, scenes from this story alternate with the present-day experiences of Inspector Alan Banks, whose latest case entails finding the killer of a freelance journalist. Clues elude Banks and his coworker, Annie Cabbot, until an interview with the murder victim's girlfriend reveals that the journalist was writing a feature story on a popular 1960s rock band and had managed to secure a crucial interview before dying. Banks suspects the journalist might have uncovered information someone wanted to keep hidden. The unsavory and unromantic side of the hippie culture is woven into both investigations, as indiscriminate drug use and "free love" wreak havoc on the lives of several characters. Recommended. [See Prepub Mystery, LJ 12/05.] Linda Oliver, MLIS, Colorado Springs Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Two murders, 36 years apart, turn out to be linked in the latest Inspector Banks case from Robinson (Strange Affair, 2005, etc.). Cutting between parallel plots is a hallmark of Robinson's work, but this time he so fully develops two murder cases that he effectively turns out two thrillers in one. The first murder occurs during a Yorkshire rock concert in 1969: A young woman, bearing multiple stab wounds, lies dead in a sleeping bag. The second murder occurs in the present: During a blackout, someone, using a poker, bashes in the head of a freelance journalist. The writer's papers and computer are missing, leaving Banks guessing that the writer's information and personal details explain the motive. Further clues are scant, save for a numerical code penciled into the flyleaf of a novel and some details offered by a young girl who had had a brief affair with the writer, much to her father's disdain. Paternal ire also colors the earlier case as Detective Inspector Stanley Chadwick scours the rock group that performed at the concert and the friends of his rebellious daughter Yvonne for a suspect. Music, sex and drugs rive parent-child relationships on all fronts, though Banks, who's had a run of bad luck lately, gets on better with his son than Chadwick, a bitter, melancholy man, does with his daughter. Intent on finding the killer, Chadwick puts a flake who attempted to rape his daughter in jail for the murder. Chadwick's zeal was misguided, the sharp-eyed Banks realizes, once he discovers the connection between the two cases. Now Banks must set straight what happened in the past as he continues searching for answers to what took place in the present. What is more satisfying than one solidRobinson mystery? Two solid Robinson mysteries, expertly entwined, offering twice the usual pleasures.
From the Publisher
Piece of My Heart is rather brilliant.”
— Mo Hayder, Globe and Mail

“What is more satisfying than one solid Robinson mystery? Two solid mysteries, expertly entwined, offering twice the usual pleasure.”
Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“Robinson at his best. . . . a killer of a book.”
Hamilton Spectator

“Among the best books in the crime fiction genre. It is, indeed, the sort of crime novel that transcends its genre.” — Calgary Herald

“Remarkable series . . . 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. He’s good company.”
New York Times

“First rate . . . an addictive crime series . . . bet you can’t read just one.”
New York Times

“Peter Robinson takes the straightforward police procedural and transforms it into something approaching art.”
Calgary Herald

Praise for Strange Affair:

“Moody, atmospheric, exciting and deftly plotted. Another explosive read from Robinson.”
Hamilton Spectator

“Magical storytelling. What [Peter Robinson] produces here is extraordinary.”
Ottawa Citizen

“Peter Robinson builds a mean mystery.”
Montreal Gazette

“The best Banks book in years.”
Winnipeg Sun

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Inspector Alan Banks Series , #16
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
4.18(w) x 6.75(h) x 1.12(d)

Read an Excerpt

Piece of My Heart

A Novel of Suspense
By Peter Robinson

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2006 Peter Robinson
All right reserved.

ISBN: 006054435X

Chapter One

Monday, 8th September, 1969

To an observer looking down from the peak of Brimleigh Beacon early that Monday morning, the scene below might have resembled the aftermath of a battle. It had rained briefly during the night, and the pale sun coaxed tendrils of mist from the damp earth. They swirled over fields dotted with motionless shapes, mingling here and there with the darker smoke of smoldering embers. Human scavengers picked their way through the carnage as if collecting discarded weapons, occasionally bending to extract an object of value from a dead man's pocket. Others appeared to be shoveling soil or quicklime into large open graves. The light wind carried a whiff of rotting flesh.

And over the whole scene a terrible stillness reigned.

But to Dave Sampson, down on the field, there had been no battle, only a peaceful gathering, and Dave had the worm's-eye view. It was just after 8:00 a.m., and he had been up half the night along with everyone else listening to Pink Floyd, Fleetwood Mac and Led Zeppelin. Now, the crowd had gone home, and he was moving among the motionless shapes, litter left behind by the vanished hordes, helping to clean up after the very first Brimleigh Festival.Here he was, bent over, back aching like hell, eyes burning with tiredness, plodding across the muddy field picking up rubbish. The eerie sounds of Jimmy Page playing his electric guitar with a violin bow still echoed in his mind as he shoved cellophane wrappers and half-eaten Mars bars into his plastic bag.

Ants and beetles crawled over the remains of sandwiches and half-empty tins of cold baked beans. Flies buzzed around the feces and wasps hovered about the necks of empty pop bottles. More than once, Dave had to maneuver sharply to avoid being stung. He couldn't believe some of the stuff people left behind. Food wrappers, soggy newspapers and magazines, used Durex, tampons, cigarette ends, knickers, empty beer cans and roaches you'd expect, but what on earth had the person who left the Underwood typewriter been thinking of? Or the wooden crutch? Had a cripple, suddenly healed by the music, run off and left it behind?

There were other things, too, things best avoided. The makeshift toilets set over the open cesspit had been uninviting, as well as few and far between, and the queues had been long, encouraging more than one desperate person to find a quiet spot elsewhere in the field. Dave glanced toward the craters and felt glad that he wasn't one of the volunteers assigned to fill them up with earth.

In an otherwise isolated spot at the southern edge of the field, where the land rose gently toward the fringes of Brimleigh Woods, Dave noticed an abandoned sleeping bag. The closer he got, the more it looked to be occupied. Had someone passed out or simply gone to sleep? More likely, Dave thought, it was drugs. All night the medical tent had been open to people suffering hallucinations from bad acid, and there had been enough Mandrax and opiated hash around to knock out an army.

Dave prodded the bag with his foot. It felt soft and heavy. He prodded it again, harder this time. Still nothing. It definitely felt as if there was someone inside. Finally, he bent and pulled the zip, and when he saw what was there, he wished he hadn't.

Monday, 8th September, 1969

Detective Inspector Stanley Chadwick was at his desk in Brotherton House before eight o'clock Monday morning, as usual, with every intention of finishing off the paperwork that had piled up during his two weeks' annual leave at the end of August. The caravan at Primrose Valley, with Janet and Yvonne, had made a nice haven for a while, but Yvonne was obviously restless as only a sixteen-year-old on holiday with her parents can be, and crime didn't stop while he was away from Leeds. Nor, apparently, did the paperwork.

It had been a good weekend. Yorkshire beat Derbyshire in the Gillette Cup Final, and if Leeds United, coming off a season as league champions, hadn't managed to beat Manchester United at home, at least they had come out of it with a 2-2 draw, and Billy Bremner had scored.

The only blot on the landscape was that Yvonne had stayed out most of the night on Sunday, and it wasn't the first time. Chadwick had lain awake until he heard her come in at about half past six, and by then it was time for him to get up and get ready for work. Yvonne had gone straight to her room and closed her door, so he had put off the inevitable confrontation until later, and now it was gnawing at him. He didn't know what was happening to his daughter, what she was up to, but whatever it was, it frightened him. It seemed that the younger generation had been getting stranger and stranger over the past few years, more out of control, and Chadwick felt unable to find any point of connection with them anymore. Most of them were like members of another species to him now. Especially his own daughter.

Chadwick tried to shake off his worries about Yvonne and glanced over the crime sheets: trouble with squatters in a Leeds city center office building; a big drugs bust in Chapeltown; an assault on a woman with a stone in a sock in Bradford. Manningham Lane, he noticed, and everyone knew what kind of women you found on Manningham Lane. Still, poor cow, nobody deserved to be hit with a stone in a sock. Just over the county border, in the North Riding, the Brimleigh Festival had gone off peacefully enough, with only a few arrests for drunkenness and drug dealing -- only to be expected at such an event -- and a bit of bother with some skinheads at one of the fences.


Excerpted from Piece of My Heart by Peter Robinson Copyright © 2006 by Peter Robinson. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

What People are saying about this

Ian Rankin
“Prepare for a crash course in taut, clean writing and subtle psychology.”
Stephen King
“The best series now on the market.”
Michael Connelly
“Wonderful...multi-layered mystery.”

Meet the Author

One of the world’s most popular and acclaimed writers, Peter Robinson is the bestselling, award-winning author of the Inspector Banks series; he has also written two short-story collections and three standalone novels, which combined have sold more than ten million copies around the world. Among his many honors and prizes are the Edgar Award, the CWA (UK) Dagger in the Library Award, and Sweden’s Martin Beck Award.

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Piece of My Heart (Inspector Alan Banks Series #16) 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 15 reviews.
NExSW More than 1 year ago
this series always rewards and always leaves me wanting more. I enjoy my time with these characters. Piece of My Heart is weak in only one respect, namely that it is overplotted. The pieces of the puzzle just manage to fit together but there are sooo many. I think he is right on target with his evocation of the British invasion and the current lives of musicians of that era rings true. The Banks novels don't really qualify as a guilty pleasure since they are so well-written that I feel no shame whatsoever.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Peter Robinson's series of books around Chief Inspector Banks are a joy to read and his latest is his best yet. I am a Yorkshireman and know the territory well where his books are based and he is accurate in his detail of the area. His Police procedural is also 100% correct and this story grips one from the very first page. I am biased for the above reasons and I have every book written by PR and await his next one with impatience. If you are a 'I don't know this writer' do not hesitate - buy this book for the quality of story and writing.
harstan More than 1 year ago
In September 1969, now the morning after the first Brimleigh Festival, Dave Sampson feels good about its success. Much of the crowd has left with volunteers cleaning the mess they left behind. Dave notices a sleeping bag that appears as if someone is inside when he unzips it he finds a dead body. Assigned to investigate the homicide is die hard WWII veteran Detective Inspector Stanley Chadwick, who detests the dirty hippies. The only nebulous clue so far is the victim apparently had ties to psychedelic band the Mad Hatters. -------------- - Three plus decades later in the isolated hamlet of Fordham, Inspector Alan Banks investigates the murder of Nick Barber, a freelance music journalist who was writing an article on aging rock stars the Mad Hatters for MOJO magazine. Banks learns of the homicide thirty five years ago at the rock festival and wonders if there is a connection as he has problems accepting tragic coincidence. He continues to make inquiries while pondering whether Nick solved the 1969 murder leading to his subsequent death.------------ The sixteenth Banks British police procedural is a superb entry that is freshened up by the 1969 investigation that fascinatingly compares police methodology and attitude with the present day inquiries. The fascinating story line switches effortlessly back and forth between the two eras as the audience observes Chadwick¿s efforts vs. that of Banks. Thus readers obtain two wonderful cases, historical and current, while wondering along with Banks what Barber learned that killed him.-------------- Harriet Klausner
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dimps More than 1 year ago
I don't think Peter Robinson can write a bad book. His characters are riveting, his plot tangled, and his aura of mystique about the area he writes about is right-on, since I have been there. I hope he continues to write about Alan Banks who is so real, with a fine sense of right and wrong.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
The shifting between the present and the past is irritating and is seldom a good idea in a novel. How any kind of interest could be generated about a group called the Mad Hatters remains a mystery to me. Not much going on at the Banks scene either: the interrupted dinners caused by a call to a murder scene was stale ages ago. I must say I've read every other Alan Banks book with enthusiasm but this one was way below par in the series. Am looking forward to a better effort next time.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was my first book by Peter Robinson that I have read, but it won't be my last. I really enjoyed it. I thought the characters were well thought out and the decription of the 60's was very realistic. If all of Mr. Robinson's books are this good, I look forward to reading each and every one of them.
GailCooke More than 1 year ago
Thought you'd left the `60s rock `n roll scene far behind? Not so in Peter Robinson's remarkably conceived crime story in which he connects two criminal investigations - one which takes place in 1969 and the other in 2005. Seems that in the earlier case a young woman was found dead in her sleeping bag following a music festival. She had been murdered and was discovered among the bottles, drug paraphernalia and other leavings common to a British outdoor concert at that time. As it turns out she was slain during a Led Zeppelin set. Who was she and why was she killed? All readers initially know is that she had some dealings with a fictional rock band, the Mad Hatters. This doesn't seem at all the type of crime usually associated with Robinson's popular protagonist Detective Chief Alan Banks. At the present he has more than he can handle. As readers of Strange Affair may remember Banks recently lost his brother, and now he is called to investigate the murder of a stranger who came to Yorkshire a short while ago and then was fatally crowned with a poker. As it turns out the journalist was working on a piece for MOJO magazine about the Mad Hatters. And, what a band they were - one member went over the deep end (mentally), another drowned in the shallow end of a swimming pool. Thus are Banks and Detective Inspector Stanley Chadwick, who was assigned to the dead girl's case, drawn together and readers are treated to twin narratives as the mystery of why there is any connection between the two murders is revealed. Two mysteries for the price of one, both crafted by one of the best writers around. - Gail Cooke
Guest More than 1 year ago
A real let down compared to the other books I have read in this Alan Banks series. The rock music subject matter did not work like past topics and failed to hold my interest. A real snoozer. Better luck next time.