cover image The Hanging Valley

The Hanging Valley

Peter Robinson. Scribner Book Company, $20 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-684-19393-9

A rotting corpse in the Yorkshire Dales brings Chief Inspector Alan Banks to the insular village of Swainshead in the latest of Robinson's ( Gallows View ) justly acclaimed series of procedurals. Aided by a receipt found in the trousers pocket of the murder victim, Banks identifies him as Bernard Allen, a local youth on a visit home from Canada. The investigation leads back five years to the unsolved murder of a PI hunting for a young girl's killer and the nearly simultaneous disappearance of a village woman. Evoking Ruth Rendell's Wexford setting and, like her, posing multiple solutions before the story's closing, Robinson lets Banks do much of his deducing with a pint glass in his hand--here inviting comparisons with Colin Dexter's Inspector Morse. Watching Banks down his beer is the pool of likeliest suspects, including two landowner brothers with sinister pasts, a pretentious B&B owner and his sexually repressed wife. Banks travels to Canada (on the trail of the missing woman) and moves through a maze of passion and possible blackmail before finding the solution in long-kept secrets. Robinson excels in the depiction of character, especially in his portrait of his pleasingly fallible copper. He is steadily ascending toward the pinnacles of crime fiction. (Dec.)