Peter Robinson: no longer a well-kept secret
Excerpts from the interview by Chris Aldrich in the February/March 2003 issue of Mystery News
Ill admit it for years I was one of those for whom Peter Robinsons Inspector Banks series was a well-kept secret. Sure, I discovered him before a lot of people, sometime around 1995 or so when I had to find out about this author that Walter Satterthwait kept talking about. An English ex-pat who lived in Toronto and wrote a police procedural series set in Yorkshire sounded good to me. Give me a character-driven procedural with solid and seamless writing and Im usually pretty happy. The first one I read was The Hanging Valley in which Banks takes his investigation to Toronto and I got hooked. I quickly tracked down the rest of the books and let myself get drawn into the world of Alan Banks, his family, and colleagues....
We all learn a lot more about Bankss past in Peter Robinsons newest book, Close to Home, which seems aptly titled as DCI Banks gets caught up in parallel investigations of two boys who went missing over thirty years apart. The first, his childhood friend Graham Marshall, disappeared while on his morning paper round in 1965 when he was 14 and was never found. When Grahams bones are found at a construction site, Banks makes a visit to his childhood home in Peterborough to see if he can help the local police with their inquiries.
The idea came out of an incident I touched upon briefly first in In a Dry Season, then in Cold is the Grave, where Banks tells Annie about a school friend who disappeared and was never seen again. Banks blames himself because he was attacked by a stranger some weeks previous and never reported the incident. Anyway, it seemed too good a story not to tell, so I started with the discovery of the bones.
Robinsons writing routine is fairly straightforward: These days I'm having to learn to write anywhere and everywhere, but I haven't yet been able to do it on a plane or train. Ideally I work at home between about nine and three-thirty I don't belong to a writing group. Never have. Never will. It's a solo occupation for me, until the editors get hold of it. I'm amazed my students find the courage to share their early drafts with others!
With flawed and believable characters, vivid settings, compelling stories and seamless writing, Peter Robinsons books are a real treat. The word is out -- hes not a well-kept secret anymore.
Close to Home, William Morrow, ISBN 0-06-019878-8, $ 24.95, February 2003. You can listen to the song, The Summer That Never Was at www.InspectorBanks.com, where you can also find the dates of Peters publicity tour for Close to Home.
Read the complete interview in the February/March 2003 issue of Mystery News