Click here to read reviewer Michael Leonard's take on When the Music's Over.
Robinsonís novels are eagerly anticipated, and When the Music's Over (featuring Inspector Banks) is no exception. Recently promoted to Detective Superintendent, Banks is plunged into a mystery of particular contemporary interest.
At the same time, he is overseeing another case, aptly handled by his stalwart colleague, Detective Inspector Annie Cabbot. Both cases have political implications in a world made more accessible by technology and the publicís curiosity, each case monitored closely by the higher-ups who bear the brunt of the nationís outrage.
The most volatile case is one mired in the past and not without precedent in recent trials.
Yet another popular figure, celebrity Danny Caxton, has been accused of sexual assault in 1967, the victim fourteen at the time. Much like the dramatic accusations of sexual assault by Bill Cosby in America, poet Linda Palmer has come forward to announce her 1967 abuse by Caxton. Erudite and believable, Palmer is able to relate the specific details of her unexpected encounter with Danny Caxton at the height of his career, Linda an impressionable teenager overwhelmed by the starís personality and ill-prepared to defend herself from his forceful advances. There are other victims as well.
Like the women in the Cosby scandal, they are willing finally to share their stories, a chorus of abused womenís voices growing as the investigation widens. As primary investigator, Banks interviews the accomplished poet, encouraging her to write the details of her traumatic encounter to better remember anything that might fortify her case against Caxton.
On a parallel track, D.I. Cabbot, accompanied by D.C. Gerrie Masterson, is investigating the murder of a teen girl, drugged and brutally beaten, tossed from a van into a stagnant ditch. After flagging down a passing vehicle, the desperate girl waves for help only to face a deadly fate. Cabbot and Masterson arrive on the scene to discover a battered corpse curled into a fetal position, her young life brutally extinguished. This investigation leads the detectives into an ugly morass of abuse, drugs, and degradation, with ugly racial overtones, exacerbated by endemic poverty and criminal opportunism.
Segueing between the brutal murder of an exploited teen to an arrogant public figure secure in his popularity and high connections, Robinson captures the chasm between rich and poor, the defense afforded the wealthy in contrast to the shabby existence of a young girl trapped in poverty. Each case requires a specific method in uncovering the truth, from the glib falsity of the aging celebrity to the vicious racial overtones in the case of the drugged and beaten girl who has slipped between the cracks and met an untimely death.
Both investigations are ably handled by Banks and Cabbot, who share a comfortable relationship. While Banks admires Linda Palmerís strength and integrity--a
woman refusing to be a victim--Cabbot mentors Gerrie Masterson through the complicated and volatile case that threatens to explode in racial animus through the exploitation of English girls by immigrant gangs. Robinson works his magic, seamlessly weaving the realities of criminal behavior with his protagonistís ruminations on music and literature, passages that inspire an exploration of Bankís musical taste or select writings, the subtle nuances of a civilized life that balance the harsh realities the Homicide and Major Crime Unit face regularly, a novel to savor in spite of its shocking content.