Monday, September 23, 2019

A Necessary End (Inspector Banks No. 3) - Peter Robinson

A Necessary End is book number three in Peter Robinson’s twenty-six-book-long Inspector Banks series. By the beginning of this one, Banks has comfortably settled into his Yorkshire surroundings and much prefers his new job to the one he left behind in London. The locals consider him to be a likeable enough guy, and more importantly, an honest cop who doesn’t cross the line. But when Scotland Yard sends a hotshot cop up to Yorkshire to take over a murder investigation, all of that is suddenly in jeopardy because the London cop is the exact opposite of Banks and doesn’t care who might object to his behavior. 

What should have been a small, peaceful demonstration in little Eastvale goes suddenly wrong when a policeman is stabbed to death during a confrontation between 100 demonstrators and the handful of police on hand to keep them under control. CID Superintendent Richard Burgess makes it perfectly clear upon his arrival from London that someone is going to pay for the crime – and the sooner the better because he can’t wait to get back to civilization. Banks, when he figures out that Burgess will build a case against the easiest target he spots, regardless of actual guilt, makes the potentially career-damaging decision to run his own parallel investigation behind the superintendent’s  back.

So, did the policeman die because one of the demonstrators just happened to pull a knife during the fight or is there more to the man’s murder? As it turns out, the young cop had a reputation for taking the opportunity to bash a few heads with his baton every chance he got and particularly enjoyed working demonstrations and protest marches. Had any of the demonstrators had a previous run-in with him - and a whole different motive for pulling that knife? Or not? The murder may just be a whole lot more complicated than Burgess wants to admit – and every bit as complicated as Banks fears it is.

Peter Robinson
The author does not add much to the Banks character in A Necessary End, and his wife and children are still pretty much blank slates in this third book. In fact, the whole family is out of town during the entire novel and their only communication with Banks is via short evening telephone calls. We do learn that Banks sees his job “as a defender of the people, not an attacker” and that he is now thirty-eight-years-old. But Robinson keeps Banks real by making sure that he is a long way from being perfect, as illustrated by what Banks reveals about himself to Burgess during one of their numerous pub-fueled conversations: “I don’t like violence. I’ll use it if I have to, but there are plenty of more subtle and effective ways of getting answers from people. That aside I never said I was any less ruthless than you are.” (Of course, Burgess sees through the bravado and spits beer while trying to stifle his laughter at the claim.)

As for personality quirks, the reader does learn that Banks is a chain-smoker who does not much concern himself with the private spaces of others and will force his habit into almost any situation and location. Too, he may be just a bit of a snob when it comes to his attitude toward American culture and the way that it is relentlessly spreading throughout Great Britain. After one conversation with Burgess, Banks finds himself wondering, for instance, “why so many people came back from America, where Burgess had been to a conference a few years ago, full of strange eating habits and odd turns of phrases – ‘pain in the ass’ indeed!” (The superintendent’s big sins were the way he cut and ate his meat in the American style and his love of donuts for breakfast.) 

But that’s about it as far as new revelations go.

Bottom Line: A Necessary End easily stands on its own merits as a standalone. Readers should definitely not be concerned with having to read the first two books in the series prior to picking up this one. It is based on a solid murder mystery with numerous plausible suspects that will keep the reader guessing right up to the end – and it solidifies the image of Banks as a “good cop” willing to buck superiors to ensure that justice is served. 


  1. I've enjoyed these books for years, but don't remember much about the first ones. Once I found his books, I checked the library for earlier books, then for more recent ones--until I caught up and had to wait for additional installments. :)

    1. The nice thing right now is that the early books were all reprinted in 2016 or so and my library seems to are able to find them somewhere in the county pretty easily. I think a new one is either just out or coming out pretty quickly, so this is going to end up being one of the longer detective series ever written.

      I like them a lot but am finding it a bit strange that Sandra, his wife, is kept so far in the background in the first three books. It probably strikes me that way because she was such a central part of the 25th book in the series, the one that got me started reading Robinson.

  2. I've read the first three, and a few others. Reading this, and going back to my own review, oh so long ago!, makes me want to read more of these mysteries. Thanks! Oh, and my review is here:

    1. Thanks for the link, Nan. As I was telling Jenclair, it appears that all the books have been reprinted in the last two or three years and that most library systems picked them up, so they are not hard to find right now. My library has the fourth book on hold for me right now, in fact.


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