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Banks sipped his Macallan and let the music flow over him. All of a sudden, he knew what he wanted for his birthday: a guitar. Even if he had to buy one himself, having no one in his life likely to buy him an expensive present. It had been years since he’d played rhythm in a fledgling band called Simson Weed, which hadn’t even managed to survive their first three gigs before splitting up. The lead singer had thought he was a cross between Roger Daltrey and Robert Plant, which also made him God’s gift to women.
from “Many Rivers to Cross”
On the Move
Alan Banks – until now – has written his history of almost the last 25 years and it’s a history of moving. He starts as a Detective Chief Inspector (DCI) and finally becomes Detective Superintendent (DSI). So far his career: moving up the ladder, but never changing the scene. He stays in Yorkshire.
In the beginning he is 36 years old and married with children, small children. Then there is a divorce, the children grew up and now he lives alone having an affair every now and then. In his last adventure aka murder case he was 60 years old. His children are grown-ups by now causing their very own problems. Sometimes the fallout bursts out all over Banks.
… and all the way Banks was accompanied by music. He is one of the real music aficionados. By the way his son lives also for music – he plays in a band and the band is by now well-known and successful.
I followed his steps from the beginning, got involved in his long way and all his cases from the beginning until now. Each year when a new Banks novel is out I enjoy reading it and wait for the next.
The Alan Banks series is one of the few series where the main character is presented in – let’s call it – reality. On point is: he gets older from year to year. According to his development there is his personal evolution: he gets more and more obsessed with music. He has his special problems with getting older. There is his longing for a woman in his life although it never seems to last for any longer than some months.
He lives happily in his lonely cottage, however, he starts thinking about the time after his retirement. Finally this seems also a reason for him to accept his promotion to DSI because on this level he may work until he’s 65 years old. Of course this doesn’t solve the problem – it only postpones it. His main passion is music; he doesn’t care what he eats, almost no sports, no gardening … no frequent traveling.
Coming to his job resp. his mission: Is there such a lot of crime and murder in Yorkshire?
Often Banks is concerned with family business. Daughters get lost. Husbands get involved in dirty dealings. Suddenly there is a murder victim and Banks asks himself if anybody from outside is involved. Often there are drug deals or sex deals going sour. Crime extends from arson and art forgery up to human trafficking and child molestation. There is the odd serial killer at work … Sometimes cold cases get hot again … And during the last novels there are influences of organized crime from abroad. Even the aftermath of modern terrorism seems to have reached rural Yorkshire.
In short: Not only Banks is on the move and grows also crime changes during this period of almost 25 years.
Banks is concerned with quite a lot of nondescript cases at first glance which evolve rather quickly into complex cases with more people involved than thought – sometimes influential and powerful people. Banks always remains true to himself and tries to solve the mystery even if he has to hassle whoever might have a clue without disclosing the truth.
From his background he was born into the working class and he’s got this chip on his shoulder whenever dealing with successful people, influential families, if self-made tycoons, if landed gentry. Sometimes during an investigation he’s got the right idea, sometimes … not. By the way there is a novel concerned with a cold case in which Banks was marginally involved as a teenager and which haunted him since then.
Banks isn’t a lonely wolf. There is always a team. At first during the 80s resp. 90s the team consist of men, it’s a male domain. Then there is a change … women enter police procedures. Since several years there is Area Commander Gervaise, Banks female boss. Also his team consists mainly of women as it seems, capable and clever women on their way up the ranks.
It’s inevitable to talk about DI Annie Cabbot. Banks and Cabbot, Alan and Annie, form the heart of the team working incessantly on their cases. Annie lives alone apart from some affairs which never worked out. Both are not only colleagues, but friends – and once they were lovers for a short time (as far as I remember). They talk, they drink, sometimes too much – especially Annie is fond of booze.
It is needless to mention that they always solve their cases, although not always the evildoer ends up at court and prison. Sometimes there is arbitrary law working, sometimes people stumble without being guilty … Banks watches and knows resp. at least suspects the real truth behind the fronts unable to act. Maybe it’s this imperfectness that makes Banks and his cases so interesting.