The Summer That Never Was (Inspector Alan Banks Series #13)

The Summer That Never Was (Inspector Alan Banks Series #13)

by Peter Robinson
     
 

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While recuperating from the events of Aftermath on a Greek island, Inspector Alan Banks reads that the bones of his childhood friend, Graham Marshall, have been dug up in a field not far away from the road where he disappeared more than thirty-five years earlier.

Intrigued by the discovery, and still consumed with guilt because of a related incident he

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Overview

While recuperating from the events of Aftermath on a Greek island, Inspector Alan Banks reads that the bones of his childhood friend, Graham Marshall, have been dug up in a field not far away from the road where he disappeared more than thirty-five years earlier.

Intrigued by the discovery, and still consumed with guilt because of a related incident he failed to report at the time, Banks returns to his hometown in Cambridgeshire and becomes peripherally involved in the investigation, headed by newcomer Detective Inspector Michelle Hart. At the same time, a few counties away, the case of another missing teenager – the son of a famous model and step-son of anex-footballer, is handed to DI Annie Cabbot. Banks shuttles between the two cases far apart in time but perhaps not so far apart in character. When the lives of both detectives are threatened, Banks searches his own memories for clues, until he is finally forced to confront truths he would rather avoid, and finds that, in these investigations, the boundary between victim and perpetrator, guardian of the law and law-breaker is becoming ever more blurred.

A gripping crime novel, set in the present day, The Summer That Never Was is also a gritty and evocative portrait of northern England in the sixties, and an exploration of the nature of memory, the destruction of families, andadolescence.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"The Alan Banks mystery-suspense novels are, simply put, the best series now on the market. In fact, this may be the best series of British novels since the novels of Patrick O'Brian. Try one and tell me I'm wrong."
-Stephen King

“If you haven’t encountered Chief Inspector Alan Banks before, prepare for a crash course in taut, clean writing and subtle psychology. And watch for those twists – they’ll get you every time.”
–Ian Rankin

“Like P.D. James, Robinson works on a large, intricately detailed canvas.”
Publishers Weekly

“Peter Robinson’s novels are chilling, evocative, deeply nuanced works of art.”
–Dennis Lehane

“A devilishly good plotter…[Robinson’s] characterizations are so subtle that even the psychological profiler is stumped.”
New York Times

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780771076015
Publisher:
McClelland & Stewart Ltd.
Publication date:
10/28/2008
Series:
Inspector Alan Banks Series, #13
Pages:
464
Product dimensions:
4.16(w) x 7.51(h) x 1.22(d)

Meet the Author

Peter Robinson is the author of the Inspector Banks novels, including Strange Affair, which was chosen as one the best books of 2005 by the Globe and Mail, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel and January Magazine, and of two non-series suspense novels, Caedmon’s Song and No Cure for Love. Strange Affair has also been shortlisted for the LA Times Book Award for best crime fiction novel. He has also published a collection of short stories called Not Safe After Dark. His novels have been translated into over sixteen languages, and he has won a number of international awards, including the MWA Edgar, the CWA Dagger in the Library, the Martin Beck Award, from Sweden, the Danish Palle Rosenkrantz Award, and the French Grand Prix de Littérature Policière. He has also won five Crime Writers of Canada Arthur Ellis Awards.

From the Hardcover edition.

Read an Excerpt

1
Trevor Dickinson was hungover and bad-tempered when he turned up for work on Monday morning. His mouth tasted like the bottom of a birdcage, his head was throbbing like the speakers at a heavy metal concert, and his stomach was lurching like a car with a dirty carburetor. He had already drunk half a bottle of Milk of Magnesia and swallowed four extra-strength Paracetamol, with no noticeable effect.

When he arrived at the site, Trevor found he had to wait until the police had cleared away the last of the demonstrators before he could start work. There were five left, all sitting cross-legged in the field. Environmentalists. One was a little grey-haired old lady. Ought to be ashamed of herself, Trevor thought, a woman of her age squatting down on the grass with a bunch of bloody Marxist homosexual tree-huggers.

He looked around for some clue as to why anyone would want to save those particular few acres. The fields belonged to a farmer who had recently been put out of business by a combination of mad cow disease and foot-and-mouth. As far as Trevor knew, there weren’t any rare pink-nippled fart warblers that couldn’t nest anywhere else in the entire country; nor were there any ivy-leafed lark’s-turds lurking in the hedgerows. There weren’t even any trees, unless you counted the shabby row of poplars that grew between the fields and the A1, stunted and choked from years of exhaust fumes.

The police cleared away the demonstrators — including the old lady — by picking them up bodily and carting them off to a nearby van, then they gave the go-ahead to Trevor and his fellow workers. The weekend’s rain had muddied the ground, which made manoeuvring more difficult than usual, but Trevor was a skilled operator, and he soon got his dipper shovel well below the topsoil, hoisting his loads high and dumping them into the waiting lorry. He handled the levers with an innate dexterity, directing the complex system of clutches, gears, shafts and winch drums like a conductor, scooping as much as the power shovel could hold, then straightening it so as not to spill any when he lifted it up and over to the lorry.

Trevor had been at work well over two hours when he thought he saw something sticking out of the dirt.

Leaning forward from his seat and rubbing condensation from the inside window of the cab, he squinted to see what it was, and when he saw, it took his breath away. He was looking at a human skull, and what was worse was that it seemed to be looking right back at him.

***

Alan Banks didn’t feel in the least bit hungover, but he knew he’d drunk too much ouzo the night before when he saw that he had left the television on. The only channels it received were Greek, and he never watched it when he was sober.

Banks groaned, stretched and made some of the strong Greek coffee he had become so attached to his during his first week on the island. While the coffee was brewing, he put on a cd of Mozart arias, picked up one of last week’s newspapers he hadn’t read yet and walked out on the balcony. Though he had brought his Discman, he felt fortunate that the small time-share flat had a mini stereo system with a cd player. He had brought a stack of his favourite cds with him, including Billie Holiday, John Coltrane, Schubert, Walton, the Grateful Dead and Led Zeppelin.

He stood by the iron railings listening to “Parto, ma tu ben mio” and looking down at the sea beyond the jumbled terraces of rooftops and walls, a cubist composition of intersecting blue and white planes. The sun was shining in a perfect blue sky, the way it had done every day since he had arrived. He could smell wild lavender and rosemary in the air. A cruise ship had just dropped anchor, and the first launches of the day were carrying their loads of excited camera-bearing tourists to the harbour, gulls squawking in their wake.

Banks went to pour himself some coffee, then came out again and sat down. His white wooden chair scraped against the terra cotta tiles, scaring the small lizard-like creature that had been basking in the morning sun.

After looking at the old newspaper and perhaps reading a little more of Homer’s Odyssey, Banks thought he would walk down to the village for a long lunch, maybe have a glass or two of wine, pick up some fresh bread, olives and goat’s cheese, then come back for a nap and a little music before spending his evening at the taverna on the quayside playing chess with Alexandros, as had been his habit since his second day.

There was nothing much that interested him in the newspapers except the sports and arts pages. Rain had stopped play in the third test at Old Trafford, which was hardly news; England had won an important World Cup qualifying match; and it wasn’t the right day of the week for the book or record reviews. He did, however, notice a brief report on a skeleton uncovered by a construction worker at the site of a new shopping centre by the A1, not far from Peterborough. He only noticed it because he had spent a good part of his early life in Peterborough, and his parents still lived there.

He put the newspaper aside and watched the gulls swoop and circle. They looked as if they were drifting on waves of Mozart’s music. Drifting, just like him. He thought back to his second conversation with Alexandros. During their game of chess, Alex had paused, looked seriously at Banks and said, “You seem like a man with many secrets, Alan, a very sad man. What is it you are running from?”

Banks had thought about that a lot. Was he running? Yes, in a way. Running from a failed marriage and a botched romance, and from a job that had threatened, for the second time in his life, to send him over the edge with its conflicting demands, its proximity to violent death and all that was worst in people. He was seeking a temporary escape, at least.

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