“A disgraced college lecturer is found murdered with £5,000 in his pocket on a disused railway line near his home. Since being dismissed from his job for sexual misconduct four years previously, he has been living a poverty-stricken and hermit-like existence in this isolated spot.
The suspects range from several individuals at the college where he used to teach to a woman who knew the victim back in the early ’70s at Essex University, then a hotbed of political activism. When Banks receives a warning to step away from the case, he realises there is much more to the mystery than meets the eye – for there are plenty more skeletons to come out of the closet…”
“Children Of The Revolution” is the twenty first novel in the Alan Banks series, penned by Yorkshire novelist Peter Robinson.
I first discovered Robinson’s books, and therefore Alan Banks, when I picked up a copy of “Aftermath” way back in 2001, which was already book twelve in the series. I have since caught up on the previous stories, and made sure to read every one published since.
It’s taken me a while to get to this one, simply because I have so many (too many?) books waiting to be read on my Kobo – including book twenty two “Abattoir Blues”. This is doubtless a by-product of the obsessive side to my personality, which is also responsible for the size of my music library (which contains enough music to take the best part of two years, listening 24 hours per day, to listen to each album once!)
So, back to the matter at hand. Did this novel work, and does it stand up against the previous instalments? Well – I guess to be honest it’s yes and no!
Gavin Miller is the disgraced college lecturer found dead on the disused railway line, and it’s not immediately clear whether his death is the result of an accident or foul play – but the evidence suggests the latter so DCI Banks and his team begin to investigate Miller and his background.
Before long there are two main strands of investigation taking place – the first into former colleagues and students at the college where Miller was accused of sexual misconduct and sacked, and the second into his past at Essex University some forty years previously, which brings Banks into contact with, and indeed conflict with, some rich and powerful figures.
Despite being warned off from pursuing the latter strand, Banks continues with his investigations, aided by DI Annie Cabbot, DS Winsome Jackman and DC Gerry Masterton, convinced that there is more to things than meet the eye.
We then delve into the worlds of Marxist students, dope smoking Grateful Dead fans and striking miners in the early 70s, romance novelists, politicians, and the thorny issue of accusations of sexual misconduct in the modern day.
As usual there is detailed descriptions of the various settings, plenty of references to Banks’ musical tastes, and some very well plotted twists and turns. There were any number of potential killers revealed throughout the book, so that when the actual murderer was exposed in the closing stages it hadn’t been obvious since early on.
However, I felt that there were perhaps a few too many mentions of Banks’ son and his successful rock band – indeed it seemed that nearly everyone Banks questioned knew of both father and son, which is perhaps a little unlikely. There wasn’t much in the way of action, really, but I guess that is often the case in a murder investigation – lots of theories and interviews hopefully leading to finding the guilty party.
Additionally, the budding romance in the final pages felt even less likely – though I’m sure many men of Banks’ age would have liked to have found themselves in his shoes at that point! Wishful thinking on the part of the author perhaps?
All in all, then, a great read and a good story, provided that you take some of the interactions at face value and don’t think too deeply about them!
I will be interested to see if the series picks up when I delve into “Abattoir Blues”…