For a book that was written before my birth, I found Gallows View entertaining and enthralling from start to finish. Inspector Banks is an incredibly likeable character, and the traditional focus on police procedure rather than complex forensic practice makes this novel reminiscent of classic British mysteries. Simple, engaging, timeless… a novel for anyone with a longing for crime novels of the past, with a modern concept and a creepy list of crimes.
For all its positive attributes, the novel itself is slightly confusing. Well, confusing for some. I thoroughly enjoyed the pace, and the variety of crimes that Gallows View presents us with. Inspector Banks has recently moved to a small English town with his wife, Sandra, and two children. He expects the pace to be somewhat slower in his new position, but within weeks he finds himself dealing with a peeping tom, a string of non-violent burglaries, and the murder of an old woman in her home. With no clues and no leads to follow, and under incredible pressure from local womens activist Dorothy Wycombe, Banks’ department enlists the help of Dr Jenny Fuller, a local psychologist. Dr Fully, an intelligent and attractive young woman, provides the department with a deeper insight into the motives behind peepers, but she also provides a distraction for Banks as he finds himself more attracted to her.
This complicated web of events plays out in spectacular fashion and it’s not long before some of the culprits start to escalate their activities. A personal attack on Banks’ family makes him question the thin line between his work and private life, and the investigations heat up when an unfortunate incident brings about a lucky break in the case. Robinson sets up his characters masterfully, with a great amount of detail. It’s hard to say if he knew when writing Gallows View that he would still be writing Inspector Banks novels some 24 years later, and I look forward to watching his characters grow and change over the years.
The climax to the novel, where all the loose ends tie up, is brilliant! While we follow a couple of culprits throughout the novel, the killer responsible for murdering the old woman does not reveal themsevles to the final pages, and what a revelation it is! A fantastic novel. It’s effortless charm and intriguing characters have persuaded me to carry on with the series, and I will await the arrival of book #2 eagerly!