The Hanging Valley
Reviewed: April 15, 2009
By: Peter Robinson
Publisher: Penguin Canada
272 pages, $18.00
When reaching back into the past to read the first of Ian Rankin’s Rebus
novels I noted that there was some similarity between those and Peter Robinson’s
Alan Banks mysteries, which made me want to read another early Banks’
novel to check that out.
The Hanging Valley is the fourth in that series, and shows clearly what the
early differences were. Banks stories are not confined to a particular city
or town, but range all over the Yorkshire region. In this case Banks has a murder
in a somewhat isolated village to investigate, and it turns out that the solution
ties into another murder that was committed some years earlier.
Banks seems to be an altogether nicer person than the deeply troubled Rebus.
His demons are more manageable and less likely to be drowned in too much alcohol,
though there is a great deal more drinking than would seem wise for someone
in that line of work.
Banks is still married in this book, but it is increasingly clear that the author
can’t quite figure out how to work in the family bits. There aren’t
any obvious cracks in the marriage, but I’m not surprised to know that
there’s a divorce in Banks’ future.
A nice touch in this story is that the Canadian based author of British mysteries
causes his character to take a trip to Toronto in order to follow up some clues
in the case at hand.
While I was pretty certain who the villain of this piece would turn out to be,
I completely gobsmacked by the way the climax played out. My first reaction
was that it came too quickly, but I read it again and decided that it was, in
fact, just right.