Piece of My Heart By Peter Robinson
I have been a fan (one of millions) of Peter Robinson’s mysteries since the first Inspector Banks novel, Gallow's View, was published in 1987. Since then he has become a very popular writer and each new novel in the series is much anticipated by his readers. Piece of My Heart, his most recent novel, takes place in both 1969 and 2005 - a span of 36 years. That makes the teenager of 1969 an adult of 50 something now. My generation. The years of the late 1960s and early 1970s were the years in which Peter Robinson came of age - along with a mass of “baby boomers”. We were the generation born after the Second World War, the children of the men who had fought for our freedom - men who expected respect and obedience from their children - the men our generation called the “establishment” and rebelled against. We were the first generation of “teenagers”.
England in 1969 was a place full of teenagers - and the countryside was a place of outdoor rock concerts and young people making their own statement about peace and love, and freedom from parental “establishment” rules. This freedom included some pretty risky behavior - free love and drugs were a big part of the scene. Most survived it and some did not.
Linda Lofthouse did not survive. She was murdered at an outdoor rock concert, in the chaos of intoxicated teenagers, in 1969. In 2005, Nick Barber is a music journalist, investigating and writing about a popular band of the late 1960s - a band that played at the concert where Linda was killed.
As Inspector Alan Banks investigates this 2005 murder he realizes that Nick had discovered something about the earlier murder and was most likely silenced by someone from the past. Of course no one wants to speak about that time. Some are now deceased, and the rest are not willing to re-examine their past and any involvement they may have had. They are now adults, well into their 50's, most with respectable careers and grown families. Those who survived their youthful rebellion and risky behavior are now part of the “establishment” themselves.
Banks, though, is persistent and means to solve the puzzle that connects the past to the present - making a lot of people very uncomfortable in the process. As always, the novel is a great escape. If you are a reader of my generation you might think how lucky you were to have survived it all.
If you are older, perhaps the age of a parent of a baby boomer, just be glad you had no real idea of what your teenagers were up to! Your only concern now is to wait in anticipation for another year or so for the next Inspector Banks novel.