During the late sixties and early seventies, scores of American college students protested the Vietnam war.
Britain also had its share of strikes and pickets, especially among the coal miners and sympathetic university students. Set against this backdrop is Peter Robinson's latest Inspector Banks mystery, "Children of the Revolution." (William Morrow, 336 pages)
The case begins with the discovery of the body of man who had fallen from a bridge. The fall was most suspicious given that five thousand pounds were found on the dead man's body.
The victim, Gavin Miller, was an unemployed former university instructor who had fallen on hard times. The investigation team finds that Miller had been wrongfully fired from his university post after some false sexual misconduct charges were levied against him.
But the most suspicious aspect of the case is a seven-minute call from the victim to Lady Veronica Chalmers, shortly before his death. Lady Veronica Chalmers is the wife of a successful theatrical producer, Sir Jeremy Chalmers, and aunt of Oliver Litton, whose name has been bandied about as the future home secretary.
While Banks suspects this is a case of blackmail leading to murder, his superiors discourage him from investigating the well-connected Lady Chalmers. Yet his suspicions tell him there is a tie between Lady Chalmers and the dead man which he must investigate - even at the risk of his own career.
This latest Alan Banks chapter remains true to Peter Robinson's formula of a difficult case and a crew of endearing police characters whose eccentricities bring a bit of levity to what are often rather tragic plots.
The rivalry between DI Annie Cabbot and DC Gerry Masterson, and the reputation of poor DS Winsome Jackman, whose lady like manners belie her notoriety for having drop kicked a suspect, all add a touch of humor to stories which deal with very dark and disturbing subject matters.
It is this human touch which makes Peter Robinson's Detective Chief Inspector Alan Banks novels so memorable.