As most will already know, sadly, author Peter Robinson died in October 2022. Mainly known for the DCI Alan Banks series, it’s that series that I wanted to write about.
The DCI Banks novels are set in the fictional English town of Eastvale in the Yorkshire Dales. Robinson has stated that Eastvale is modelled on Ripon and Richmond and is somewhere north of Ripon. A former member of the London Metropolitan Police, Inspector Alan Banks leaves the capital for a quieter life in the Dales. Of course, a quieter life is the last thing Banks finds as he investigates a series of crimes in the Yorkshire town. Banks is an everyman, and the character works all the better for it, and the openness with which is flaws and foibles are shown.
“Gallows View”, book 1, introduces Banks to the reader to Eastvale and the team, not to mention his wife and children. This gives a wonderful sense of place, the characters are on the whole fully rounded, and the crimes/solutions make sense.
Thankfully, that is how the series continues. Each book can standalone, but they, of course, make more sense if you read them as a series and you get to follow the lives, careers and happenings in each character. Banks first appeared in print in 1987 and ran for 28 books, not including short stories. I read the first novel back in 2013 and after that I read 19 of the books, in fairly quick succession. Given that that is the same number I stopped on for Stephanie Plum, 19 seems to be about my limit for a series.
One of my favourite characters was always Annie Cabbot, she grows in confidence and ability through the series. If you’re also into Ian Rankin’s work, Annie is in much the same role as Siobhan.
Like all long series this one has its really strong instalments, and it’s weaker one, but there wasn’t one I didn’t enjoy. Of all the books, I’m torn on giving my favourite. I loved “Gallows View” and the way it bring the reader into the series, but of the following books, here are a few that stood out for me.
“In a Dry Season” caught my attention because at the time of reading I was working in the water industry, and I know the kind of emotions seeing those drowned villages reappear can bring some people.
“Aftermath” was just brilliant and chilling, not to mention a shocking revelation of a serial killer.
“The Summer that Never Was” was a brilliant examination of the way childhood friends drift apart as adults, and why their childhoods were never quite what they remembered.
Then “A Piece of My Heart” and its link with music festivals, aging rock stars and the effects of friendship, really stayed with me for some time.
Banks did become a TV series, staring Stephen Tompkinson, but I never watched them because I couldn’t see Tompkinson as Banks. The actor and the man in my imagination just didn’t gel. But TV shows are never as good as the books, so if you’ve never read Banks, I highly recommend that you give him a try, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.