Gallows View

Gallows View - Peter Robinson [These notes were made in 1992:]. Robinson's first book, but it shows no signs of immaturity. Inspector Banks is well-characterized, and the issues he faces are rooted in the '80s. In this book, he has to deal with three sets of problems - a Peeping Tom, who may or may not proceed to bigger things; a series of break-ins, first on older people, then on middle-class people away from their homes, the last of which culminates in a rape; and the murder (possibly manslaughter) of an old woman. Any or all of these might or might not be related. Robinson gives us more information than he gives his detective on the break-ins - we follow the young thugs through the progressively more violent stages of their career - but withholds the solution of the Peeping Tom cases and the old woman's death until the end. He adds a dash of personal involvement by putting Banks to work with a female psychologist named Jenny, to whom he is strongly attracted, but towards whom he makes no moves, because of his commitment to his wife Sandra. At the end, in the sudden rush of action I have come to expect at the conclusion of Robinson's books, Banks must choose between going to Sandra (who has just survived a near-rape ordeal) or to Jenny (who is being held hostage at gunpoint). He goes where he is most needed - i.e. to Jenny - but feels appropriately guilty. There's a lot of gender politics in this book - a lot of decent, sensitive thinking that gives one a certain amount of hope for the male species. (Incidentally, the Peeping Tom is a member of Sandra's camera club, a fairly harmless man who nonetheless pushes things much too far, terrorizing Sandra. The old woman was accidentally killed by a shove from the overprotective father of one of the young thugs - he believed the old woman would give evidence against his son.)