>> Thursday, January 17, 2013
Former London policeman Alan Banks relocated to Yorkshire seeking some small measure of peace. But depravity and violence are not unique to large cities. His new venue, the quaint little village of Eastvale, seems to have more than its fair share of malefactors, among them a brazen Peeping Tom who hides in night's shadows spying on attractive, unsuspecting ladies as they prepare for bed. And when an elderly woman is found brutally slain in her home, Chief Inspector Banks wonders if the voyeur has increased the intensity of his criminal activities. But whether related or not, perverse local acts and murderous ones are combining to profoundly touch Banks's suddenly vulnerable personal life, forcing a dedicated law officer to make hard choices he'd dearly hoped would never be necessary.Gallows View is the first in a long-running (over 20 books) series featuring Inspector Alan Banks. In this first entry, Banks has just moved from London to a small Yorkshire town, hoping for a bit of the quiet life. He's not quite getting what he hoped for, though. There has been a rash of muggings, and then an old woman gets killed in an apparent robbery. Not to mention, a Peeping Tom is targetting the women in the village, and the local feminists are giving the police trouble for not stopping him.
Well, all I can say is that this is a very popular series, and knowing the people who've mentioned they like it, I'm assuming the books must have improved A LOT over the years. They really were starting from a low point. The plot was kind of interesting, but the characters ranged from boring to broad stereotypes, and extremely dated, 1980s stereotypes, too, which made me want to bang my head against a wall. The ridiculous, strident "women's libber" character was particularly offensive.
In fact, ALL the sexual politics in this book were dated and offensive. Even Banks, who's supposed to be a halfway decent human being, engages in some lovely victim-blaming (some of those victims of the Peeping Tom were clearly looking for it, why didn't they close their curtains completely), and is exasperated when the women's libber character objects to one of his men having made sexual comments to one of the victims, during an interrogation.
Bad enough, but it got even worse. Here's where I bailed and refused to keep reading: two young criminals have been steadily moving up from petty crime. They've now graduated into house breaking, and they've broken into a woman's house, when she walks in. They need time to get away, and even though they've tied her up, they seem to think that's not enough. One of them wants to hit her over the head, but the other doesn't want to, because she might get killed.
And then this character, who'd been vaguely sympathetic up until then, portrayed as basically a kid who'd got mixed up in things that were a bit too big for him, decides to rape her. Yes, rape her. But it's fine, the reader shouldn't get too upset, you see, because Robinson's been laying the ground well. The woman has sexy underwear, including low-cut bras (as if a teenage boy would look at a bra not on a woman's body and recognise it's low-cut. Please), lives alone, and is wearing too much mascara. Clearly she's promiscuous, so let's rape her, why not? Oh, and to make matters worse, I've been having a look at 1 star reviews on goodreads, and someone included the spoiler that the rapes are only solved because the victim had an STD, and gave it to her attackers. So pay attention, children, promiscuous women might deserve to be raped, but be careful, because they're dirty and might give you a disease. Well, all I can say to that is that I've only just managed to restrain myself from making this part of the review about the author, rather than the book.
MY GRADE: It's technically a DNF, but what I read deserves a big, fat F for its offensiveness.
AUDIOBOOK NOTES: The audio really didn't help this book any. The version my library had was a quite old one, not the one you can find on audible. I had a quick listen of the sample on audible and the narrator of that one sounds quite good. This one was read by Tim Goodman, and he was utterly terrible. He sounds like he's either sneering or reading through gritted teeth, and I hated how he did dialogue, especially women's voices. Every female character, even a psychologist brought in by the police, who's the only female character portrayed as intelligent in the text, sounded really naff and silly