When an elderly woman is found brutally slain in her home, Chief Inspector Banks wonders if the voyeur has increased the awful intensity of his criminal activities. But whether related or not, perverse local acts and murderous ones are combining to profoundly touch Banks's suddenly vulnerable personal life, forcing a dedicated law officer to make hard choices he'd dearly hoped would never be necessary.
©2009 Peter Robinson; (P)2009 Tantor
"An extremely well-fashioned police procedural." (The New York Times Book Review)
Always on the lookout for a writer who can really grab my attention. Watched some of the DCI Banks episodes on Public Television so thought I would try one of the books. Of course it makes sense to start with the first one, even though one must also be prepared for the possibility that the writer has not quite got into his stride. Actually, while Robinson's dialog for the most part creaks and he seems to be a little overenthusiastic in describing the bits where people take their clothes off, there is no doubt he has a way with words. This comes out especially in his descriptions of the surrounding countryside, which verge on the poetic. And while the sub-plots are not sophisticated, nor are they deficient to the point of interfering with one's overall enjoyment. So that doesn't sound so bad.
Well, it is. Because the reading is frankly horrendous. It's not just that Mr. Honan has some difficulties handling the considerable number of regional accents involved, and he does have some difficulties - I don't think I heard anything that passed for genuine Yorkshire in the whole book (watch the Herriot stories on Public Television and you'll get the idea). It is the consistent over emphasis that appears to imbue every action, every event, every line of dialog, every descriptive pasage with a sense of critical importance, not unlike television news reporters who seem to think no-one will listen to them unless they shout. Now it is not clear as to whether Mr. Honan's delivery is his own idea or whether he is being directed. No matter which, it effectively destroys the story, hence my low rating. What Mr. Honan fails to appreciate, even though it is stated explicitly at least twice, is that our hero has come up to Yorkshire expecting a quiet, mondane life. The author provides a quiet small Yorkshire town with a market place and people going about their unexciting lives as a backdrop against which the unaccustomed criminal activity should stand out in sharp relief. Mr. Honan takes the entire book, no matter what is happening, like the Ride of the Valkyries. How much nuance I have lost as a result I cannot say. After a while I was punch-drunk, though I saw it through to the end. Fortunately I note that the remaining Banks books are read by James Langton and Simon Prebble. Prebble I know from the Dick Francis books and am thoroughly at home with. Langton has read around 130 books and must be doing something right. Either one will surely be a relief from Mr. Honan's non-stop histrionics.
DCI Banks is a great character. I am always disturbed by the fact that his physical description does not at all fit the actor who portrayed him in the BBC versions, but nonetheless, he is an engaging character whose personal and inner life provide a good counterpoint to the stories of crime and detection. I found the narrator's super deep voice not the best choice for Banks, and he does not do well on reading many of the other characters, especially the female ones. I found these issues detracted from the overall impression, but still I enjoyed listening to the book.
I've read most all of Peter Robinson's books and this being the first in the series it is not his best. That being said, the real problem with ths audio book is the narration. It portrays Banks with low brow accent, unsophisticated and bumbling. Not at all giving justice to Mr. Robinson's witty character, Inspector Banks.
This was my first encounter with DCI Banks from Peter Robinson. It found the plot interesting, and the movement from one set of characters to another was smooth. The performance wasn't the best I have heard, and the female characters were sometimes a bit difficult.
Overall, I would recommend this to a fan of the British contemporary crime novel.
I wouldn't: I was nearly put off Robinson forever. Happily, I had brains enough to check that the rest of his Banks books are NOT narrated by Honan.
No. Someone has told him that he must sound bright and cheerful. The rolling 'r's were almost enough to make me not finish this book.
I NEVER watch movies of books I've read and liked.
The switch from Honan to Langton is the best thing that happened to Robinson in the audio field !
Peter Robinson really got my attention after picking and reading a very Suspenseful Mystery Novel, called "After the Poison," I wanted more and found that he had a Crime/Detective Series around Detective Alan Banks. I read this quite a good while back.
I liked getting to meet this personality and his interesting co-workers and relationships. There's just enough depth and complexity in them with promise of more. Great sense of detail without being wordy. Multiple cases and sub-stories unfold rapidly. Robinson began here in 2008. This got me started looking forward to and as much interested in following the aging and life of DCI Alan Banks & Co. Also love learning about the geography, people/culture of Yorkshire Dales. Not the depth of "Before the Poison," but a breezy read that is still filling.
I had already read this book some years ago, but thought I would get it on audible for the winter months - it's excellent. Peter Robinson is one good story writer! Keep 'em coming!
This surely has to be one of the worse books I have tried to listen to. It's poorly scripted and the narration is painful to say the least.
I shall go back to John Rebus and Inspector Mclean.
I would not inflict this story line on anyone
I gave up within 30 minutes
"narrator spoilt this"
Not a bad plot but the narrator was simple terrible.. his Yorkshire accents sounded exactly like characters from Wallace & Grommet. I have noticed that the second book is a different one so will probably try the second book.
Really enjoyed this book. Great story well told which kept me gripped to the end.
"Cringe worthy narration"
Not a bad story but Mark Honan the narrator made it sound like an episode of Postman Pat, literally made me cringe in places.
The very best of a very good British thriller. This first introduction was masterful and so well written.
I would not have chosen Mark Honan to narrate this story. His attempts at accents are dreadful; quite often changing the character of a character because his accents are not consistent and so confusing the listener as to who is 'talking'. Good story by Peter Robinson though.
Only my opinion..
The narration was dreadful, but I persevered and finished the book. The story was OK, but the book was very much of it's time (I think it was written in 1987), and the author's portrayal of attitudes to sexual equality and sex crimes was heavy handed, to say the least. As my wife pointed out, I'm in my early 60s, so 1987 is literally half a life time ago, I suppose allowances must be made. I'm left wondering how much of my dissatisfaction with the book was the author, and how much the narrator.
Possibly, with another narrator.
The narration was dreadful. I read another review which said the narrator made it sound like an episode of Postman Pat, and that sums it up perfectly. He leaves just too long a gaps in conversations, which makes it sound stilted, his accents are corny and inconsistent, and his pronunciation comical at times. For example, a little research would have told him how to pronounce threepenny bit!
"Narrator spoils it"
I will try another book by Peter Robinson, but not if it's the same narrator!
I think he tried to0 hard, the attempt at different voices were almost caricatures.
It is hard to tell, the story was lost in the awfulness of the narration
"Another slow start."
Really enjoyed this after the first 3 chapters and it's a great story with a completely unpredictable ending. 😊🌝
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