My first encounter with Peter Robinson’s dour Yorkshire detective was when I saw the ITV drama series starring Stephen Tompkinson.
Robinson is a prolific writer, and there are more than 20 novels in this gripping series, so when I decided to transition to the books, I had plenty to choose from. I was quickly caught up in the amazing stories and the relatable characters.
The author creates a compelling series that showcases the highs and lows of the human race. Every story features compelling characters and twisted plots, which keep readers guessing. Set in a fictional Yorkshire town, the novels show Banks as he tries to deal with the tattered remains of his personal and professional lives, while also solving complex and fiendish crimes.
The books are different from the TV series, and although there are similarities, including character and plot overlaps, there are differences too. In my mind, the DCI Alan banks from the books is much more tough and rugged than Tompkinson’s world-weary detective.
So if you’re a fan of the TV series and want to see how the two compare, or you just enjoy a good gripping police procedural, then check out my list of my top five DCI Banks novels for first timers.
5. Cold Is The Grave: After persecuting him Banks for years, Chief Constable Riddle needs Banks’ help. Nude photos of his runaway teen daughter have surfaced online, and he wants Banks to track her down. The trail takes the DCI back to London, his old stomping ground, and into the seedy underbelly of the capital city. Even after bringing the girl back to Yorkshire and returning her to her family, danger follows Banks, and his personal troubles don’t help the situation. The result is an exhilarating novel with an intriguing plot that keeps the reader guessing.
4. Piece Of My Heart: Something I love about the DCI Banks series is that Robinson is constantly switching things up. He brings in new narrative techniques and plot devices every so often, so that readers are always kept on the edge of our seats. In Piece Of My Heart, the past comes back to haunt DCI Banks when he deals with a death close to a band who have already been involved in another gruesome crime. The band was previously linked to a brutal murder in the 1960s when a woman’s dead body is found encased in a sleeping bag after the band’s outdoor concert. Banks has to trail through the old case to understand how the past led to the events of the present. As he delves deeper into the case, both the dead girl’s murder in the 1960s and the present day slaying of a music journalist, Banks is drawn into a tawdry web of deceit and debauchery.
3. Dry Bones That Dream: When a mild-mannered accountant is shot in the head in his garage while his family is tied up at home, Banks becomes entangled in a web of lies and deceit that he never expected. When a former colleague arrives from London with surprising news that sheds a new light on the case, the novel takes a thrilling turn. Robinson creates a tantalising tale that keeps the reader guessing, but still feels realistic and relatable.
2. Strange Affair: Robinson has never been afraid to show his readers the confusing muddle that is his protagonist’s personal life, but he goes one step further in Strange Affair. Banks’ estranged brother leaves him a bizarre message, which sends the detective back to London in search of him. As he trawls the streets searching for his brother and unpicking his painful past, his colleague Annie Cabot finds a dead girl with Banks’ contact details in her pocket. It quickly becomes apparent that the two cases are linked in a sinister way. With Banks in danger, the reader is kept on the edge of their seat throughout this tense novel.
1. Gallows View: If you’ve ever read one of my top five lists before, then you’ll know that I always recommend that you begin at the beginning. The DCI Banks series is no different. The first crime novel in this gripping series introduces readers to DCI Banks and the fictional Yorkshire town of Eastvale, where he retreats to escape the hustle and bustle of life as a policeman. As Detective Chief Inspector, Banks deals with everything from petty crimes through to escalating situations, giving readers an insight into his character. The unexpected climax leaves readers raring for more from Peter Robinson and his inquisitive protagonist.