Chief Inspector Alan Banks on the case

February 8, 2011

Peter Robinson is the internationally best-selling author of the long-standing Inspector Banks crime mysteries. Gallows View is the first in the fiction series, published in 1987, and since then Robinson’s stories have hit bestseller lists around the world, including the UK, US, Canada, Australia, Sweden, Germany and Brazil. I read Gallows View to get started at the beginning of the series, and I’m hooked, more so on this inspector than Henning Mankell’s Inspector Kurt Wallander, whose first-in-the-series Faceless Killers I recently read. Both inspectors listen to opera to chill out and methodically clock through the crime at hand, but the atmosphere in the Banks series is more alive with a variety of characters — Robinson takes us through scenes focused from the viewpoint of characters outside his lead inspector, using these other viewpoints to create suspense and build a complex story, but not give too much away.

In Gallows View, we get the viewpoints of vandals who are breaking into houses plus neighbors of a slain, elderly woman. Chief Inspector Alan Banks is on both these cases, while he’s also trying to find a Peeping Tom. He has just relocated from London to the Yorkshire village of Eastvale, where all this crime is going on. The pace of the storytelling is brisk and colorful. Everything builds quickly into a conclusion that not only solves who’s peeping and who murdered the elderly woman, but also affects Banks’ personal life, creating a choice he must make where there’s no easy answer.   

Gallows View is a highly entertaining, suspenseful story, and Banks is a regular guy you can’t help liking. Amidst all the crime he’s trying to figure out, he’s surprised to find himself attracted to a psychologist who’s helping him on the job, and yet he’s happily married. Definitely a good thread to weave into the follow-up book in the series, A Dedicated Man. That’s up next for me, as I explore this genre. Although, in between I plan to squeeze Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter, nominated for an Edgar, and John Dunning’s Booked to Die.

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