Short-story crime novel falls a little flat

2009-12-23 00:00

BOOK REVIEW

The Price of Love

Peter Robinson

Hodder and Stoughton

NOT having read a Peter Robinson before, but aware that he has a huge following for his character of Alan Banks, Brit detective, I was anticipating a riveting read.

The Price of Love is a collection of short stories, most of them unrelated to Banks, but with the final story­ taking the form of a Banks novella­.

Like a Virgin goes back 20 years to the days before DNA testing at crime scenes when Banks was a young copper in downtown London. A new Jack-the-Ripper type serial killer is making short work of prostitutes, so Banks follows his gut instinct and discovers the clues to uncover the killer’s identity.

Having finished the book, I was left underawed and unsatisfied. It was much like anticipating a sumptuous banquet, only to find that there was no salt in any of the food.

I guessed immediately whodunnit in the novella and found the other stories mostly pretty flat.

But I found that I warmed to Banks and have asked to borrow a book or two of his other adventures. He seemes a likeable guy, with just the right amount of human failings to make him believable.

A jaded outlook, I don’t deny, but as far as crime stories go, perhaps living in Pietermaritzburg and South Africa, with ours so much more dramatic­, brutal and gory than the murders Robinson dishes up, are simply just bland. Or maybe the medium­ of the short story does not allow Robinson to season and spice up his subject matter fully.

Either way, it’s not a book I would recommend.

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