Past Reason Hated by Peter Robinson

past reason hated

When Caroline Hartley is discovered savagely murdered in her living room, an LP record of Vivaldi’s Laudate pueri sung by Magda Kalmar is playing, set on repeat. The victim had never liked classical music and her partner claims she had never seen the record before.

Where did the record come from? Why was it playing? Did it have any significance to the murder?

Banks walked back to the window and lit a cigarette. What the hell was it about the music that bothered him? Why did it have to mean something? He would find out as much as he could about Vivaldi’s Laudate pueri

It’s been a while since I read one of Robinson’s DCI Banks books, and this one has been a welcome change from the “True Crime” I’ve been reading recently. It was good to get back to a story with an element of the unknown, a “page-turner” that I could read without knowing the outcome before I started, and also have the “comfort” of knowing that it wasn’t portraying the crimes and resulting suffering of real people.

This is the fifth of the DCI Banks books and its not a coincidence that the majority of crime books I’ve been reading are parts of various series. Most of them have been more than merely crime mysteries and their resolution. In the best of them the returning characters grow and develop through their experiences.

While Past Reason Hated was a “good read”, it wasn’t free of problems.

The book was first published in 1991, and I think like some of the previous Banks books, the writing shows its age.
For example, I’m not sure that a description of

“groups of female office workers [laughing] about the way the mailroom boys hands had roamed during the office party”

stands up very well almost 30 years later.

Also, the book’s opening scenes, at wedding reception, include excerpts  of  what used to be known as “rugby songs” – crude, often misoginistic ditties associated with men’s sporting teams. Again this tended to add an out-dated feel to the book.

And annoyingly, Robinson also revisits an earlier facination with breasts – this time when Banks visits a Soho night club with topless barmaids.
In more recent books (not part of this series) those “dated” elements aren’t there – or are not as noticeable

As a contrast, the book also visits territory that would have had a different political charge to it  almost 30 years ago, before LGBTIQA+ became a fashionable, ever expanding acronym.
Two of the major characters , including the murder victim were lesbians, and other characters express an assortment of attitudes towards them, some of which wouldn’t be acceptable in current western secular societies, but  the narrative itself leans more towards a live and let live attitude.

One thing made clear in all of Robinson’s work is his deep and eclectic love of music. Alan Banks shares that love and throughout the books references are made to various pieces of music, of many genres, that he plays while driving or walking.  Part of the pleasure beyond the books is tracking down examples of the tracks Banks plays.


The video above is one part of the recording playing at the murder scene.
It is based upon Psalm 112.

Psalm 112
Praise the LORD.
Blessed are those who fear the LORD,
who find great delight in his commands.
Their children will be mighty in the land;
the generation of the upright will be blessed.
Wealth and riches are in their houses,
and their righteousness endures forever.
Even in darkness light dawns for the upright,
for those who are gracious and compassionate and righteous.
Good will come to those who are generous and lend freely,
who conduct their affairs with justice.
Surely the righteous will never be shaken;
they will be remembered forever.
They will have no fear of bad news;
their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the LORD.
Their hearts are secure, they will have no fear;
in the end they will look in triumph on their foes.
They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor,
their righteousness endures forever;
their horn will be lifted high in honor.
The wicked will see and be vexed,
they will gnash their teeth and waste away;
the longings of the wicked will come to nothing.

8 thoughts on “Past Reason Hated by Peter Robinson

    1. Apart from finding a recording of the same person mentioned in the book, I only have the details mentioned in the book, allegedly from the album notes, that the piece of music was often used at the funerals of children.

      1. It would be hard to say anything about the relevance of that piece of music music to the story without resorting to “spoilers”. Even though most who eventually read what I have to say probably won’t read the book themselves, I wouldn’t want to give too much away to anyone who might read it.

  1. I understand.

    I always appreciate your comparisons on views between now and times not too long ago. (And I had to chuckle about the “expanding” string of letters.)

    Now I have to go and see if I can locate the particular piece of music — the recording, I mean — and who the singer is.

    1. The singer in the YouTube recording is Magda Kalmar, the same one mentioned in the book. There seems to be a few different videos of her singing (possibly) different parts of Vivaldi’s Laudate pueri. I tried a search on some on-line music stores but could find no reference to the recording. I’d be interested to hear the whole thing in its intended order instead of a collection of individual parts in probably random order.

  2. Oh, thanks! I forgot you said that. When I did a search, wow, I found the same name of pieces of music by Mendelssohn, Mozart, and others… Hayden, I think.

  3. Antonio Vivaldi – R.601 – Laudate pueri Dominum

    Above is a different soprano singing. Named,
    though, are the parts in order.

    I think I’ve found the full (dominum)
    601 (whatever that means) with Kalmar:

    Magda Kalmár: Laudate pueri (Psalm 112) RV601 by Vivaldi

  4. Incidentally, I didn’t mean to give the impression I forgot it was Vivaldi (by putting together all my sentences as one paragraph). The compositions under other composer names didn’t throw me off. As you probably surmised, it was your sharing of the soprano’s name at the very beginning that I’d let slip my mind.

    If you ever do find the recording on a long-playing vinyl or
    digitally, please let me know — if you could.

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