The year is 1969. Rock 'n' roll, psychedelic drugs, and peace-loving hippies are thriving in Britain. But in the aftermath of a rock music festival, cold reality strikes when a woman is found murdered in her sleeping bag, callously left among the debris in the concert's wake. Detective Inspector Stanley Chadwick is the hard-headed, straitlaced copper assigned to the case who must reluctantly enter a counterculture world to find a killer. When clues lead him to an up-and-coming rock band, the Mad Hatters, with whom the victim was connected, Chadwick experiences firsthand the dangers of this dark new world of sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll.
In the present day, Detective Chief Inspector Alan Banks is called to the scene of a murder victim who turns out to be a freelance journalist working on a piece for MOJO magazine about the classic rock band the Mad Hatters. Since the sixties, the band has gone through a number of tragedies, losing one member to madness and another to the shallow end of a swimming pool. Putting their checkered past behind them, the Mad Hatters have now revamped their sound and are set to celebrate their forty years in the biz by embarking on their first big concert tour in years.
Banks and Detective Inspector Annie Cabbot discover that the dead journalist was onto something big hidden in the band's past, and had stirred up some very serious trouble. As Banks and Annie dig deeper into the phenomenon of the Mad Hatters, they find more than they bargained for, and soon realize that their generation's former free-love lifestyle often comes with a deadly price.
In the course of twin narratives, Robinson expertly weaves the stories of two interconnected murders that occur decades apart. As only he can, Robinson has created a novel that is as explosive as your favorite rock album and a plot that moves at breakneck speed, traversing through the tumultuous swinging sixties to present day and back again. Piece of My Heart is an extraordinary thrill ride that uncovers the gritty and violent underbelly of the generation of peace, love, and harmony.
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May 30, 2006
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Excerpt from Piece of My Heart by Peter Robinson
To an observer looking down from the peak of Brimleigh Beacon early that Monday morning, the scene below might have resembled the aftermath of a battle. It had rained briefly during the night, and the pale sun coaxed tendrils of mist from the damp earth. They swirled over fields dotted with motionless shapes, mingling here and there with the darker smoke of smoldering embers. Human scavengers picked their way through the carnage as if collecting discarded weapons, occasionally bending to extract an object of value from a dead man's pocket. Others appeared to be shoveling soil or quicklime into large open graves. The light wind carried a whiff of rotting flesh.
And over the whole scene a terrible stillness reigned.
But to Dave Sampson, down on the field, there had been no battle, only a peaceful gathering, and Dave had the worm's-eye view. It was just after 8:00 a.m., and he had been up half the night along with everyone else listening to Pink Floyd, Fleetwood Mac and Led Zeppelin. Now, the crowd had gone home, and he was moving among the motionless shapes, litter left behind by the vanished hordes, helping to clean up after the very first Brimleigh Festival. Here he was, bent over, back aching like hell, eyes burning with tiredness, plodding across the muddy field picking up rubbish. The eerie sounds of Jimmy Page playing his electric guitar with a violin bow still echoed in his mind as he shoved cellophane wrappers and half-eaten Mars bars into his plastic bag.
Ants and beetles crawled over the remains of sandwiches and half-empty tins of cold baked beans. Flies buzzed around the feces and wasps hovered about the necks of empty pop bottles. More than once, Dave had to maneuver sharply to avoid being stung. He couldn't believe some of the stuff people left behind. Food wrappers, soggy newspapers and magazines, used Durex, tampons, cigarette ends, knickers, empty beer cans and roaches you'd expect, but what on earth had the person who left the Underwood typewriter been thinking of Or the wooden crutch Had a cripple, suddenly healed by the music, run off and left it behind
There were other things, too, things best avoided. The makeshift toilets set over the open cesspit had been uninviting, as well as few and far between, and the queues had been long, encouraging more than one desperate person to find a quiet spot elsewhere in the field. Dave glanced toward the craters and felt glad that he wasn't one of the volunteers assigned to fill them up with earth.