Gallows View by Peter Robinson

Gallows ViewEastvale, North Yorkshire, 1987.Detective Chief Inspector Alan Banks and his family has recently relocated from London. Having established himself within the local force, he currently has his hands full. A charming pair of local youths are breaking and entering peoples’ homes – and seem to be growing in confidence. A Peeping Tom is bothering a number of local women with his activities. And a confused old woman, living alone, hoping that her very long-lost husband might one day come back from the dead, is brutally murdered in her home.

Three seemingly disparate cases, but they start drawing closer together. And when Banks’ wife and the psychologist that he attracted to both get involved in the events, things are only going to get worse before they get better.

I’ve planned to get round to Peter Robinson for a while – since the start of the blog in fact. Waaay back when, in a “Favourite Mysteries” post, I listed In A Dry Season (the tenth book in the series) as one of my favourites. Since then I’ve bounced around the series a bit but haven’t been back since the start of the blog. Hence the inclusion of Robinson on my hit list for 2014 – number four that I can tick off.

So, back to the start of the series – yes, another twenty-odd strong series to follow – or is it?

Never quite sure about police procedurals. I like an oddness to my mysteries – something odd about the crime or the situation at least. And this one, plotwise, is awfully ordinary.

Not that it’s a bad book, let me make that clear. It’s very well written, with full rounded characters – although the acceptance of some character’s chauvinistic tendencies makes the fact that it was written nearly thirty years ago rather clear. Banks himself is a decent character, relatively quirk-free. He feels like you might expect a normal DCI to be. And the cases, for the most part, feel like real investigations.

And that’s the problem for me – and I think it’s a personal thing. The murder mystery element of the plot is a very small part of the book. The focus is on the robberies – no mystery there – and the Peeping Tom, which seems somewhat detached from the rest of the story. Obviously police forces have more than one case at the same time but I would have liked some more focus on the murder.

The murder mystery is well done and does tie into one of the other aspects of the plot. Fingers crossed that as the series progresses, the most interesting case takes priority in the narrative. And I will be back – as I said, it is very well-written and certainly kept my interest throughout.

So, well worth a look, but, if memory serves, later books in the series are stronger.

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10 comments

  1. A negative point for the book is that Inspector Banks apprehends the criminals mainly through sheer luck. It is highly convenient for him that the rape victim suffers from a particular disease, that the murderer is seen by another miscreant and that the miscreant virtually gives himself away.

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    • Well, he gets the evidence from luck – he knew who the burglars were beforehand. But yes, he doesn’t deduce the murderer until someone describes him. But it isn’t that sort of mystery… there is a clue or two but iirc, Banks recalls them once he’s been basically told who the murderer is.

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    • Be warned – Robinson isn’t averse to spoiling previous books in the series. E.g. Strange Affair names the killer from Playing With Fire. Not sure how many other times he does it, but best to read them in order… or at least from the earliest one that you’ve got.

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  2. I would have to agree that the earlier ones, which are the only ones I have read, are weaker, but I am assuming the later ones are better and working my way forward gradually. But even the weaker ones are worth reading for me, because I like police procedurals.

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