Gallows View, Peter Robinson

Tom Hanks’s writing is yet another sad story of how men write women
The actor’s debut collection, Uncommon Type, is blighted by Hollywood’s obsession with female bodies – but he’s not the only author to write too much about hair and breasts


gallowsThe article above came to mind when I read the first chapter of Peter Robinson’s Gallows View.
The book starts with a description of a Peeping Tom watching a woman undress, culminating in him being seen through the window by his victim as she stands naked in her bedroom. It was an uncomfortable page or two to read. Are the writer and reader any different to the fictional voyeur merely because they are viewing words vividly depicting the victim’s nakedness instead of literally looking through the window themselves?

Early on, I found the “obsession with female bodies” further demonstrated when the term “luscious mouth” was a prominent part of a description of a female psychological expert called in to advise on the case. It’s just not the kind of thing that would have been seriously used if it had been describing a man.

But two things helped the the book. Firstly recognising that it was written over 30 years ago and is a product of its time. Secondly, it does move on, attempting to address the kind of gender issues that it seems to transgress in the beginning. While that attempt might not completely succeed, I think it does a passable job for a book of the mid-eighties.

Gallows View is the first of Peter Robinson’s DCI Banks series.  The above mentioned situation with the Peeping Tom is woven with the investigation of a spate of robberies that grow increasingly violent and destructive, and Alan Banks finds that his work can encroach upon his private life in numerous ways.

dciAs with my earlier introduction to crime fiction I was draw to the series via a TV adaptation. The TV show picks up the career of DCI Alan Banks about halfway through the book series, so there is a lot of back story to be discovered through the earlier books, and I’ll be interested to see how the writing develops along the way as well as the lives of the major players.

One DCI Banks book down – twenty three more (to date) to go…


3 thoughts on “Gallows View, Peter Robinson

  1. I do sometimes wonder about crime shows and the concept of “ideation” (as well as attention to said behaviours for criminals). That in addition to your pondering about maybe being like the peeper.

    Good point on the type of speech that wouldn’t be normally applied when speaking of a man. It does sound like maybe there was a well-intended idea to confront, however mildly, the weird thinking of the time-frame…

    …or even of current men who might be reading and not have “evolved” so to speak. I think generally we do have to actually face the potential for sexism and crime in the world instead of being naive. Sadly; wish it weren’t so.

  2. There’s a line or network of lines that would take a lot to put in words to explain, but which you clearly know intuitively. I have gone to another blog for a while (I don’t remember how long ago it started), where the blog owner has been writing fiction (short and very short fiction). I wouldn’t have ever begun attending such a thing were it not that he had first run a religious or faith-based blog. You know who I mean. (I don’t go to a lot of blogs.) It freaks me out when he writes something violent or sexually weird and then says to “enjoy” or something like that. I have been reading maybe half the topics, trailing off over time. It has become a matter of commenting as a corrective (except for maybe two recent threads). I’ve decided it isn’t worth it any more. I do think what I’ve said there has been what I was supposed to do for the time (trying to nudge the consciences and awareness of the owner and one guest, besides communicate as observed by other readers mainly on subject matter related to reality or people — not so much on his fiction). But it’s enough now. It was worth it (past tense). The lasting response on their own parts is on them, each individually (by which I mainly mean the two people, not in equal ways).

    1. Slight clarification: Due to being at that site, I did visit a few other sites of writers (writers who had found their way to his site and posted in the comments — writers who I had no idea of their faith [or no], at least at first, and who I’ve not found pointless). So, while “I wouldn’t have ever begun” going to his fiction blog, I subsequently did begin at others.

Comments are closed.