98 of 102 people found the following review helpful
the series grows,
This review is from: The Hanging Valley (The Inspector Banks series) (Paperback)
One morning, a solitary walker finds a body in a quiet valley below the village of Swainsdale. The corpse clearly displays signs of a gruesome [demise]- it's as good as faceless - and has apparently lain undiscovered for quite a while. Enter Chief Inspector Alan Banks, straight into an investigation that is already appearing to be dead in the water. No one has any idea who the victim is, or how he got there. Not Sam or Katie Greenock, the couple who run the local guesthouse. Not Freddie Metcalfe, landlord of the local pub. And not either of the Collier brothers, Stephen or Nicholas, the most wealthy family in the area.
Then, a curious lead emerges that could help the identify the body, as well as link this crime to another unsolved murder in the area five years before...
My, what a good series this is. If you want a contemporary British police mystery with its grounding in the traditional aspects of detective novels, then these early Inspector Banks books really are the place to look. And The Hanging Valley is the best one so far. The plot is excellent. I couldn't really have asked for more from this sort of book. The pacing is great, and there is even a wonderfully interesting trip to Toronto for Banks (investigating a possible lead) which really gives the story a fresh kick. The ending, also, is absolutely excellent, and the final page or so is shocking, taking the book far above more run-of-the-mill traditional British mysteries. I may be in wrong, but I suspect that the finale of this book was really when the series "grew up".
The writing is of an exemplary standard (at times, I think Peter Robinson could easily turn himself to more literary fiction and be held in very high regard), and Banks is a strong lead character and is well developed, even if he'd perhaps a little too distant and cool to achieve the popularity of such peers as Rankin's John Rebus. However, this book does have a slight law in that some of the subsidiary characters (other officers, one or two of the suspects, and evens Banks' own family) could still do with quite a bit more development. Though, I'm almost positive that even those flaws will dissolve as this series progresses.