Friday, May 22, 2015

Review of The Hanging Valley by Peter Robinson (Pan, 1989)

In a hanging valley near to Swainshead in the Yorkshire Dales a walker discovers the body of man whose face has been battered beyond recognition.  Chief Inspector Banks starts to investigate, wondering if the case has any links to an unsolved murder in the village and the disappearance of a local woman five years previously.  The locals are a tightly knit community and they are being quite coy in their dealings with the police, but Banks is a tenacious copper who likes to solve a puzzling mystery.

The Hanging Valley is the fourth book in the Chief Inspector Alan Banks series (which has now reached book #22).  The story is a straightforward police procedural set in small village with a relatively small cast of characters.  The strength of the tale is the steady plotting, with Robinson carefully unfolding the investigation, keeping a handful of likely suspects in frame until the final chapters.  That said, the story simmers without ever boiling over, except for an excellent last couple of pages.  The characterisation is nicely done, especially the fragile and vulnerable Katie Greenock, who runs the local guesthouse with her abusive husband, the jocular but abrasive local landlord, and the Collier brothers, the local lords of the manor.  Moreover, there is a good sense of place, capturing the essence of a small village in the Yorkshire Dales.  Overall, a solid, enjoyable police procedural.


Rick Robinson said...

"Steady" is a good word for the books in this series. Sometimes I wish there was more action and a little less going over the same ground again...and again. Yet Robinson is a fine writer and I do get drawn into his stories.

BVLawson said...

Good choice, good series. Hard to believe he's up to #22 now! Unfortunately, I don't have time to read all the books in even my most favorite authors' series. 'Tis a pity.

FalkeEins said...

for 'steady' read 'dull' IMHO