Close to Home: A Novel of Suspense (Inspector Banks Novels)

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9780060198787: Close to Home: A Novel of Suspense (Inspector Banks Novels)

Detective Inspector Alan Banks has never forgiven himself for having possibly caused the disappearance and presumed death of his best friend back in the summer of 1965, a pivotal time when both boys stood on the precipice of manhood.

When the tragic bones are shockingly unearthed and identified near Banks's childhood home more than 35 years later, the imagined skeleton in the detective's closet becomes all too real. Plummeted back into a past he thought he'd left behind, Banks is drawn into an investigation that hits dangerously close to home.

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Review:

Having already shown, in 1999's In a Dry Season, that he can plumb historical homicide for gripping modern drama, Peter Robinson goes further in Close to Home, telling parallel stories about teenage boys lost in a grownup world, decades apart. The first is Graham Marshall, a childhood pal of Detective Chief Inspector Alan Banks, who vanished mysteriously in 1965, the supposed victim of a pedophile. Hearing that Graham's bones have finally been unearthed, Banks quits his vacation in Greece and heads to his hometown of Petersborough, England, hoping to assist the investigation--and, perhaps, assuage his guilt over his friend’s fate. Meanwhile, Banks's colleague and ex-lover, Annie Cabbot, is busy probing the recent disappearance of 15-year-old Luke Armitage, the sensitive, brainy son of a rock star who committed suicide during Luke's infancy. After Cabbot catches hell for interrupting what may or may not have been a legitimate ransom payment for Luke's return, she seeks Banks's advice, drawing these two plot lines neatly together.

As this intense and intricately crafted puzzler develops, blending fiction with a bit of fact (the Kray brothers, who ran a criminal ring in London's East End during the mid-20th century, play off-camera roles here), Robinson explores Banks's troubled relationship with his parents, especially his working-class father, who "had never approved of his choice of career." He also raises doubts about a famed copper who’d originally tackled the Marshall case, involves Banks romantically with a damaged detective whose investigative diligence threatens her safety, and shows Cabbot as someone better and stronger than merely Banks's protégé. Working with themes of lost youth and the dark secrets hidden in small towns, Robinson delivers in this 13th Banks novel a police procedural of remarkable human depth. --J. Kingston Pierce

From the Inside Flap:

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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