The Next Chapter

Peter Robinson reflects on writing his latest Inspector Banks mystery novel in a post-Brexit world

The bestselling mystery writer speaks with Shelagh Rogers about his 26th book in the Inspector Banks series, Many Rivers to Cross.
Many Rivers to Cross is a mystery novel by Peter Robinson. (Georges Seguin, McClelland & Stewart)

This interview originally aired on March 14, 2020.

It's been more than 30 years since Peter Robinson introduced Inspector Alan Banks to what has become a legion of loyal readers over the decades.

Robinson's books have won many awards and have been translated into 20 languages. He's been called the master of the police procedural — and with the latest Inspector Banks novel Many Rivers to Cross, he's up to book number 26 in the popular series. 

Robinson spoke with Shelagh Rogers about writing Many Rivers to Cross.

Writing about Britain, post-Brexit

"Britain is a very divided country and a very toxic political situation. Brexit has just divided the nation down the middle. One of the main characters in Many Rivers to Cross is actually from Moldova via France and she's living in the U.K., so she is naturally worried about what's going to happen and what her status is going to be after Brexit. 

"The world changed a lot since the first book, Gallows View, and that was published in 1987. People didn't even have mobile phones, there was no DNA analysis and computers were all in their infancy.

Britain is a very divided country and a very toxic political situation. Brexit has just divided the nation down the middle.

"I grew up in the city. I grew up in Leeds. The Yorkshire Dales, where the books are set, was an area that I spent holidays and days out with my father. A lot of it is still countryside and it hasn't changed that dramatically. One of the great things about being in the Dales is that sometimes, even on a hot summer's day, you can walk all day and not see another soul if you know where to go.

"But the habits of the city have got to the countryside. Everyone has mobile phones. Drugs are a problem and the kids have very little to do."

Older, wiser

"Banks is now in his mid-60s. When he first started, he was in his mid-30s, which is about when I started publishing books. Now our ages are close, but not exactly the same. I suppose I dumped some of my own life on him.

But certainly with age — a sense of mortality and introspection — Banks becomes more philosophical too.

"Not the circumstances of it: I'm married and live in Toronto while he's living alone in an isolated cottage. He's very introspective and is getting very monkish in his habits and I'm not like that at all.

"But certainly with age — a sense of mortality and introspection — Banks becomes more philosophical too. Those are all things that happen as your life circumstances change."

Peter Robinson's comments have been edited for length and clarity.

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