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on 21 October 2003
This is the first of the Inspector Banks mysteries. Now, some 15 years and a dozen or so books later the series is still going and gaining in popularity. I am well aware that with sequential novels such as these, any one of them can be read and enjoyed as a complete story in itself without necessary reference to the others. Yet, perhaps it is the sad completist in me, but I just have to track down the first novel and proceed in chronological order.
This type of series novel is particularly common in the science-fiction, fantasy and crime genres. Readers who enjoy such books often appreciate the attention to detail and like to track the characters' development according to their experiences and environment.
'Gallows View' sets the stage pretty well here - there is even a quaint map at the front of the book which instantly recalls 'The Lord Of The Rings' and the incursion of evil into the quiet Shire. The wonderfully provincial setting for this novel is the fictional town of Eastvale in the Yorkshire Dales. I am personally familiar with this part of the country and I would suggest to any readers of this book that if they wanted a feel for what Eastvale is like then they should visit the Dales and take a stroll around Knaresborough, Shipton or Northallerton. The rural parochialism of Eastvale lends much greater significance to the crimes than they otherwise would have if they were committed in London say (affectionately still termed ' the smoke' by the local ruffians in this story).
Banks is introduced here aged 36, self-educated, intensely curious of understanding people and is a lover of culture especially opera. He ponders problems cerebrally over a drink in true Holmesian style but is all too human as well and there are strong indications in this book that he could easily be led astray. He has moved up north hoping for a simpler life but soon finds that this quiet rural setting harbours its fair share of misfits and law-breakers. There is a pervading atmosphere of sexual tension which is an interesting characteristic of much British crime fiction - possibly as a result of the peculiarly British obsession with morality: this lends an extra frisson for the attentive reader. All in all this first instalment for the inspector holds much promise.
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on 6 May 2004
The main aspect that draws attention to this series is the character of inspector Banks. He lives in a small town in rural England and presents a very interesting picture in terms of his relationship with others, his inner conflicts and his personality. I find this extremely similar to what happens in the case of Henning Mankel's detective, Kurt Wallander, who also lives in a small town and whose life is a little "messier" than Bank's. In both cases, the rest of the plot is almost secondary, with the mystery being mainly an accessory for showing the traits in the main character. However, Peter Robinson does a better job in entertaining the reader and in keeping his attention.
In this first novel in the series, Alan Banks faces three cases simultaneously. The first one deals with a Peeping Tom that makes his appearances after following his victims from pubs. The second one has to do with a series of break-ins into houses of old ladies who live alone. The third and last case is more serious; an old lady was murdered in what looks like an accident after the perpetrator pushed her back. Banks is in charge of untangling the web of mysteries, since there are possible connections among the cases. On top of this, the inspector has to deal with his feelings towards Dr. Jenny Fuller, a psychologist that was brought in by the police department to help in the case of the peeper. The question is: Will Banks be able to solve the cases, while managing to keep his relationship with Jenny from ruining his marriage?
Robinson has created one of the most likable characters I have seen in a long time; and even though the mysteries are straightforward, the author manages to deliver a couple of surprises along the way. This is one of those books you can read in a few hours, and it fulfills what I think his purpose is, deliver a cozy mystery that keeps the reader entertained.
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on 2 August 2008
I've only recently discovered Peter Robinson and after reading Friend of the Devil I was impressed enough to buy all the Inspector Banks books. I have chosen to review this one, the first in what is shaping up to be an excellent series (I haven't read them all yet).

For me, the finest aspect of this novel is that it never strays from what happens in real life and so maintains credibility. In many detective novels half the characters end up dead - how often does this really happen? Here we have a Peeping Tom, several burglaries, a rape and a single murder - fairly standard fare for the average CID, I imagine, yet it never becomes boring. A good writer can keep the reader hooked without artificial "cliffhanger" chapter endings, unlikely twists right out of left field and gore aplenty, and Peter Robinson does this as well as anyone. I read this in two sittings and would have completed it in one, but real life has an annoying habit of getting in the way.

Also to Robinson's credit is his characterisation. We have real people who speak for themselves, especially the main character DCI Alan Banks. I became rather tired of detectives who quote poetry, read Shakespeare and solve the Times crossword in four minutes as a way of making them "real". From my experience of the police, most of them wouldn't know Keats from Ovid and would struggle with the quick crossword in the Sun. True, Banks has an interest in opera - something which endeared me to him as I love opera - but it's made plain that his hobbies are somewhat short-lived and he's not some sort of artistic genius who somehow ended up in the police force. I do agree with the reviewer who said that the feminist character comes over as stereotypical, but don't forget that the book was written in 1987 when there was no shortage of such people.

The only thing that's dated is the frequent reference to characters lighting up in pubs - but that's hardly Peter Robinson's fault as he couldn't have predicted today's meddlesome nanny state!

I would strongly recommend this and the series to anyone who likes good detective stories. Enjoy!
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Peter Robinson grew up in Yorkshire, and is the author of a number of previous novels featuring Inspector Banks. He is the winner of numerous awards in the United States, Britain and Canada, and in 2002 he won the CWA Dagger in the Library. As I also come from Leeds the background to his stories is something that I have experienced first hand and because of this I have a special affection for his books. However they would be first class crime fiction wherever they were based.

This is the first book in what has turned out to be an excellent series of crime novels, in fact I would go so far as to say that they are up there with the best of them.

There is a peeping tom frightening the women of Eastvale. On top of that two young hooligans are breaking into homes and causing mayhem and an elderly woman may or may not have been murdered. Inspector Banks is called upon to investigate these cases and soon realises that all the cases could be interlinked, but nothing is as simple as it seems for the Inspector.
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This is the first book I've read by Peter Robinson and it won't be the last as I enjoyed. DCI Alan Banks, gradually settling into his new home on Yorkshire and hoping for rather less violence than he was used to in the Met, finds himself in the middle of a complex web of interconnected cases. There is a Peeping Tom who is spying on women undressing; a spate of burglaries and a murder. Are they all connected? Or are there several different criminals at work in this small area?

I liked the Yorkshire setting of this well written and well plotted police procedural. Banks himself is an interesting and sympathetic character and the police characters get on with each other. So many crime authors seem to feel the need to set series characters against each other and give then complicated private lives it makes a pleasant change to find a book with none of these elements.
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on 22 March 2013
Gallows View is the first Peter Robinson book to feature his famous Alan Bank character and is a very good and enjoyable read. This was is my second reading of the Banks series and I was shocked at how good this book was. The character Alan Banks and the other main players in the series are almost fully formed right from the start and Robinson does an excellent job in keeping the plots moving and revealing important character details.

In the book Banks has moved to the Yorkshire Dales having left his job in London. He is looking for a quieter life but is soon involved in three investigations and none of the investigation seems to be going well for him. The first Is a peeping Tom that is watching ladies undress then running away before he is caught, the second is a spate of burglaries of which there are no clues and the third is the possible murder of an old age pensioner. Banks has to get to the bottom of all three of these and faces a number of challenges, some of a personal nature, and is struggling to solve the cases.

All in all this was a very good read. The setting is wonderful in an old Yorkshire town and Robinson really paints pictures in the mind with his descriptions of the cobbled roads and the old fashioned pubs. My only small complaint would be the attempt to spell the words in the book the way a Yorkshire person would say them. I found this to be irritating and I do not like it when this is done. However this is only a small personal issue and I would recommend this book to any fan of the crime genre.
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on 25 February 2013
Having recently watched the DCI Banks TV series I decided to read the books on which the series is based. I discovered that there are over 20 books in the series, with Gallows View being the first one. The chronology of the books is such that this one begins in the mid-1980s and the attitudes and habits of the characters reflect those of that era. There are a lot of references to smoking, what brands the characters smoke etc. and Banks often pops out for a "pie and a pint" at lunchtime. I found myself thinking about the "Ashes to Ashes" series rather than the DCI Banks TV series where the stories have been given a more modern makeover.

I really enjoyed the novel and read it in just a few days before moving swiftly on the second book in the series. While I don't normally read crime/murder novels I'm hooked and plan to carry on with the books in order. As it isn't my usual genre, I'm not sure who to recommend this book to. If the TV series has piqued your interest in the novels, I would highly recommend picking up Gallows View so that you can start at the beginning and see how Banks and his colleagues evolve over time.
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on 6 August 2009
I have recently read the first four Inspector Banks books and whilst I found them an enjoyable enough read, I found them difficult to support a 4 or 5 star rating as indicated by other reviews on Amazon.
Perhaps I was spoiled coming to them after the superb Ian Rankin's Inspector Rebus' books.
While I have found most of the plots interesting the main characters have a 'Midsomer' feel to them - lacking depth and sounding almost caricature-like. Neither the Chief Inspector or any other police officer has any real credibility. I do not expect fiction to have an accurate depiction of police processes (far too boring!) but I do expect something a little more believable.
The constant references to smoking and drinking (I doubt more than a few pages pass with out a reference) are annoying - not from a 'political correctness' viewpoint, but because they seem like yet another device to pad out the pages with a cheap but ineffective attempt to add atmosphere.
I do not know when the author left to live in Canada but I suspect it was some time before these books were written - they have the feel of life that belongs to a (romanticised) 1950's than the 1970/80's - perhaps the later books will improve!
Overall a good, light read if your expectations are not too high.
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on 30 December 2013
This first story about Inspector Banks was recommended to me by both my sister and a friend - Luckily I took their advice and read the first book in the series, Gallows View. At first I found the book rather old fashioned, as it was written before much of the technology of today. It seemed odd to start with, as lately I've been reading very recently written books that of course are full of how life is today. Don't let that put you off though, as it is still an exciting and interesting book.
I found this book an easy read in as much as it flows smoothly without any frantic twists and turns. In saying that however, it does have a clever plot and the character of Inspector Banks unfolds gradually as the story proceeds, he's not perfect but he is believable :) I will be reading the series, and as there are a lot of them it's a pleasant prospect.
I would recommend this book to anyone who likes a whodunit.
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on 6 September 2001
This book introduces Inspector Banks excellently as well as being an excellent crime novel which puts Peter Robinson alongside the best crime writers. Cleverly written and plenty of twists and turns to keep the reader in suspense.
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