Piece of My Heart

by Peter Robinson

PIECE OF MY HEART is the latest in Peter Robinson's extraordinary
mystery series featuring British Detective Chief Inspector Alan
Banks. Here, though, Banks is absent for fully half of the book.
Indeed, a great deal of this novel takes place in September 1969,
at which time the murder of a winsome young woman at a rock music
festival occupies the attention of Detective Inspector Stanley
Chadwick. Meanwhile, in October 2005, Banks is engaged in the
investigation of a rock music journalist. PIECE OF MY HEART
proceeds along twin, alternating paths until their convergence
ultimately makes clear the link between the two cases.

Linda Lofthouse is the subject of the 1969 case, found murdered in
a sleeping bag after the Brimleigh Festival. Chadwick is hardly an
expert on the youth culture at the time; names like Hendrix, Led
Zeppelin and Peter Townsend mean nothing to him, never mind that
his daughter Yvonne puts him in the mind of the victim. Indeed, his
unease over his daughter's lifestyle --- the secretiveness, the
late hours that turn into early ones, and the music --- to some
extend intrude upon his investigation. What Chadwick doesn't know
is that Yvonne had a tenuous but important tie to Lofthouse. He
does discover, however, that Lofthouse was connected to the Mad
Hatters, an up-and-coming rock band who played the festival.

Banks's present-day victim is Nick Barber, who was just beginning
research for an in-depth article about the Mad Hatters. After
incredible success marred by personal tragedies, the band is about
to launch a reunion tour. Banks has no idea that the murder that
occurred some three-odd decades ago was the catalyst for the
killing that he is investigating now, and that his investigation
may solve the mystery of both killings, performed years apart but
forever connected.

Robinson is nothing short of a marvel. He does for London what
Raymond Chandler and Ross MacDonald did for southern California,
using his stories against the backdrop of an urban locale to
function as a documentation of social and psychological mores of a
point in time. He arguably has never succeeded as well as he does
with PIECE OF MY HEART. Anyone interested in the more obscure
elements of British rock music of the late 1960s will find much to
delight in here with the offhand mention of bands who achieved
little more than cult status (it has been decades since I have
given even a passing thought to Atomic Rooster), a device that
lends much to the authenticity of the portions of the tale taking
place in the 1960s.

While not a lot appears to happen on the surface --- Banks asks
some questions, does research, broods, poses more questions ---
Robinson maintains a quiet tension from first page to last, one
that makes it almost impossible to stop reading. Additionally,
Banks's personal life is just boring enough to make any variation
extremely interesting. If you haven't read Robinson before, save
some time this summer to catch up on his previous volumes. I
guarantee you will want to.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on January 18, 2011

Piece of My Heart
by Peter Robinson

  • Publication Date: May 1, 2007
  • Genres: Fiction, Mystery
  • Mass Market Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Harper
  • ISBN-10: 0060544368
  • ISBN-13: 9780060544362