Reviewed: June 11, 2004
By: Peter Robinson
Publisher: Penguin Books
240 pages, $10.99
Gallows View is the very first of the Inspector
Banks mysteries, and it has a different flavour than the later
books in the series. If I had to categorize Robinson's work,
I'd say that this early novel, at least, is a bit like
A&E's Midsommer Murders series, while the later books seem
a bit more like Inspector Morse. This is a very rough
comparison of course, and I'm sure I'll find it totally
inadequate after I've read a bit more at both ends of the
For reasons not given in any detail, the Banks family has
relocated from London to Yorkshire, to the town of Eastvale.
There's Alan, his wife, Sandra, and a couple of kids named
Brian and Tracy who barely put in an appearance in this book,
and then mostly when objecting to their dad's latest
obsession, which happens to be opera. I can't blame them
There are three mysteries to be solved here. The least serious
seems to be a series of Peeping Tom incidents which have been
upsetting the neighbourhood and have brought down the wrath of
a local feminist group on the Eastvale constabulary.
Somewhat more serious is the rash of break and enters that
seems to have taken the town by storm. These become more
serious as the perpetrators (a pair of teenaged boys) become
more daring and more violent.
Finally, there is a murder - perhaps an accidental killing,
but the poor old lady is dead all the same. Is it connected
with either of the other problems? That's the question.
We are kept in the dark on two of these mysteries until near
the end of the story, but we know about the boys and spend
some time with them as the book proceeds.
It might be said that the story ends a little too tidily for
real life, but then detective stories are about imposing order
on the chaotic universe, aren't they?
We can see the seeds of the conflict which will eventually
drive Alan and Sandra apart even in this book. Alan is tempted
by the proximity of the attractive psychiatrist who is working
with him on the Peeper case. He resists temptation, but feels
I'm happy to note that Robinson is a transplanted Brit who has
developed into a fine writer while living and teaching here in
Canada. He may write about Yorkshire, but he does it from
Toronto. I'm also happy to note that there are at least
another eight or so books in the series that I haven't read