Peter Robinson and Raymond Chandler

After completing three degrees in literature and writing, Peter Robinson discovered he’d been missing something …

Farewell Peter Robinson ((1950 – 2022), one of the great British (and Canadian) detective writers. 

Thank you for the wonderful Inspector Banks and Annie Cabbot novels.

How many Peter Robinson books do you have?

Peter was born and raised in Yorkshire. He studied English Literature at the University of Leeds. In 1974 He did a Master of Arts in English and Creative Writing at the University of Windsor in Ontario, Canada, taught by Joyce Carol Oates, and he followed that with a PhD at York University Toronto.

His books are satisfying and absorbing as police procedural mysteries, enriched by the humanity of the characters, particularly Inspector Banks, who, naturally maybe, grows in complexity as his series progresses.

After all his studies, Peter was writing poetry and narrative poetry, when, one rainy summer, he found himself back in Yorkshire.

‘My dad, who was a great reader, had this Raymond Chandler omnibus, which I picked up. The first story I read was The Little Sister, and I remember thinking, right from the first page, Oh, I’ve been missing something.’

Peter read on, through all of Chandler, then Georges Simenon. He thought, ‘Wow, here’s atmosphere for you, this guy can really write.’

He was a great reader of British crime, but the voices of those early hard-boiled writers stayed with him. He said, 

‘I’d love to write a really great American private-eye novel in the American style. But that’s a voice that is alien to me. I can appreciate the style, but if I try to write in it, it sounds false. It’s like my trying to speak with an American accent. … In terms of style, I probably have more in common with Victorian novelists than I do with American hard-boiled, first-person private-eye writers.’

Refs: J. Kingston Pierce, “There’s nothing dry about Peter Robinson”

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