A picturesque Yorkshire village is dressed in its finest for the upcoming Noel. But one of its residents will not be celebrating this holiday. Chief Inspector Alan Banks knows that secrecy can sometimes prove fatal---and secrets were the driving force behind Caroline Hartley's life...and death. She was a beautiful enigma, brutally stabbed in her own home three days prior to Christmas. Leaving her past behind for a forbidden love affair, she mystified more than a few. And now she is dead, clothed only in her unshared mysteries and her blood. In this season of giving and forgiving, Banks is eager to absolve the innocent of their sins. But that must wait until the many facets of a perplexing puzzle are exposed and the dark circle of his investigation finally closes...and when a killer makes the next move.
©2000 Peter Robinson (P)2010 Tantor
"Immensely satisfying." (St. Petersburg Times)
I am a huge fan of the DCI Banks books, and although all of them are very good, a few stand out - this being one of them. For one, I was listening to it around Christmas time, and it is set around that time. For another, it fleshes out Banks's character quite a bit, and makes frequent references to his musical tastes. In fact music seems to play a big role in this book. So much so, that I bought the CD of music mentioned in the book, and went on to write a review about the CD as well!
Vivaldi wrote four different versions of Laudate pueri Dominum (RV600-RV603), differing in tone and mood. Personally I used to like the RV600 version the best as it is the most solemn. RV601 can be somewhat more frivolous, and many sopranos seem keen to let their vocal skills loose on it, making it sound even less solemn and too "frilly" in my opinion. So, I have never been too keen on RV601.
The Magda Kalmar RV601 recording seems to play a key role in trying to uncover who murdered a young woman, and the why. According to Banks, this version is also the best of all the Laudate pueri versions and recordings. Thus intrigued I bought it and played it as the soundtrack to the book, as Peter Robinson does in a way, by mentioning it in the narrative as playing, over and over again. I have to agree with Banks, it is a great recording and makes for an interesting experience in combination with reading the book.
Of all the Banks books, this book conjures up most of an "athmosphere" for me, draws you in, makes you want to draw the curtains and put the Kalmar CD on - it is in fact almost like a classical who-dunnit (excuse the pun....).
It is easy to see why the rest of the series became so popular, and long may Peter Robinson write the Banks mysteries....
As I am skilled at forgetting 'whodunnit' I am sure that after sufficient passage of time, I would enjoy listening to this story again. It was well crafted, full of detail, strong on atmosphere and drew me in right from the start.
I liked the way Robinson seemed to spend more time building up the layers of the main protagonist's character, flaws and all, in this book. It seemed to interweave well with the plot, and the atmosphere that he created.
I find his style a bit stilted sometimes and would like it if he reflect more in his voice, the meaning I feel the words are trying to impart.
I would have been happy to listen to this all in one go - but there is also great pleasure in rationing myself to instalments - another few chapters each time I walk the dogs.
I found that the characters in the book felt more real to me than is sometimes the case, and I felt it was easier to empathise with and share the emotions of the players as the story unfolded.
"great read and reader"
I'm a big fan of Peter Robinson, and now of James Langton. Great to hear this rendition of the wonderful Inspector Banks series.
"Another Enjoyable Read"
I've read a number of the Alan Banks' mysteries. This book maintains the quality of the characters and story line of the others. I enjoy British mysteries, and this author's series is one of my favorites. The narration is terrific.
"Very Good British Mystery"
Solid story, interesting characters, nice tension, not too much violence -- a good purchase. For my taste there's too much character development of the coppers but this seems to be a very British trait in murder mysteries -- at least in those I've read in the last 5 years.
Excellent performance by James Langton -- did not detract or intrude on the story but helped to showcase the story and characters.
I've read his more recent books. Much, much better. This particular book is excruciating. Poetic detectives? Puerile discussion of sexual preference. Dreadful.
Not Peter Robinson.
Maybe. But his "female" voices are pretty awful.
All of them.
Don't buy it.
"outdated attitudes, poor mystery"
Even though this was written in the 90s, I can't believe the parochial attitudes towards homosexual couples and people's sex lives expressed in this book by the police, let alone the other characters in the book. I hope that Leeds (UK) is and not as backwards and small minded as it's portrayed. While it's true that sexual jealousy often plays a role in crimes, this book seems to have the characters taking an almost prurient, rather than professional, interest in it. Generally very unbecoming, and any talk about "posh" diversions like classical music or opera doesn't detract from that.
As for the mystery itself, it wasn't all that interesting or suspenseful (in spite of this being called "a novel of suspense"). I thought the myriad of clues interesting, but ultimately I recognized the killer right away - not what I like to see in a mystery/suspense novel, especially when the characters and situations aren't interesting. This is my first Peter Robinson novel and I had high hopes for finding a new enjoyable author (especially a Canadian one), but I won't bother with any of his other books.
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