Crime Fiction Alphabet: Letter R

This week I’ve chosen Peter Robinson‘s Bad Boy to illustrate the letter R in Kerrie’s Crime Fiction Alphabet.

Bad Boy is Peter Robinson’s 19th book in his Inspector Banks series, but I don’t think you have to have read the previous 18 because it functions OK as a stand-alone, as quite a lot of the back-story is included.

Description from the back cover:

Banks isn’t back, and that’s the problem.

If DCI Alan Banks had been in his office when his old neighbour came calling, perhaps it would have turned out differently.

Perhaps an innocent man would still be alive.

And perhaps Banks’s daughter wouldn’t be on the run with a wanted man.

But Banks is on holiday, blissfully unaware of the terrible chain of events set in motion by the discovery of a loaded gun in a young woman’s bedroom, and his daughter’s involvement with the ultimate bad boy . . .

My thoughts:

There’s not much more for me to write about this book. I didn’t think it was as interesting as the earlier ones of his that I’ve read. For one thing there’s not much of a mystery for Banks to solve and for another I didn’t like the graphic descriptions of violence it contains. It’s a police procedural to a certain extent, except of course, that Banks doesn’t actually always follow the set procedures.

Banks does come back from his holiday, down to earth with a vengeance as he sets out to rescue Tracy, his daughter from the wanted man, Jaff, the ‘bad boy’.

DI Annie Cabot obligingly gives a definition of a ‘bad boy’:

A bad boy is unreliable, and sometimes he doesn’t show up at all, or if he does, he’s late and moody, he acts mean to you and he leaves early. He always has another fire in the iron, somewhere else to be. But always while you’re waiting for him you can’t really concentrate on anything else, and you have at least one eye on the door in case he’s the next one to walk in the room, even though you might be seeing someone else, and when you’re with him your heart starts to beat a little faster and your breath catches in your chest. (page 163)

As for Banks, there are some interesting insights into his personality. He realises that he is ‘a stranger‘ to happiness, and that he has a restless nature which precluded happiness. If he wasn’t restless he either felt a vague sadness which was occasionally punctured with anger or irritation. He also realises that he hadn’t been a good parent, but he had felt inadequate and awkward with Tracy as she was growing up, not knowing how to communicate with her.

But, Banks is on the side of law and order, despite not always sticking to procedure:

If there was one part of the job Banks hated more than any other, it was that feeling of impotence and ineffectiveness he often felt by having dedicating himself to upholding the law, following the rules. He cut corners from time to time, like everyone, had occasionally acted rashly and even, perhaps, illegally, but on the whole, he was on the side of the virtuous and the good. (page 322)

And are there hints at the end about Banks’s future? He says he is ‘getting a bit tired of it all, to be honest.’ Do I sense that Peter Robinson is getting a bit tired of Banks too?

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Hodder Paperbacks; 1st edition (28 April 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0340836970
  • ISBN-13: 978-0340836972
  • Source: Library book
  • My Rating: 3/5

8 thoughts on “Crime Fiction Alphabet: Letter R”

  1. I read some of Peter Robinson but not this one. Though the mystery was good, Aftermath and Cademon’s Song were very disturbing and violent for me. I decided not to read Robinson for a great while.

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  2. Yes, the last few Bankses have been tired, such a pity! And I agree Aftermath was too much, paedophilia AND serial killers is overdoing it. Caedmon’s Song appeared to have come out of a bottom drawer to cash in on the success of the Banks books.

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  3. Margaret – I’ve always liked Peter Robinson’s work quite a lot and I do like his Alan Banks. Aftermath was difficult to read and not my favourite in the series, and this one (Bad Boy) was also too violent for my personal taste. I agree with you about that. It’s sad too I have to admit because I’m very fond of the series. But you’ve done an excellent review here for which thanks.

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  4. Interesting review. I am only a couple of books into the series, but I have experienced other long running series where the quality is not so good in later books. Disappointing because of one’s expectations. I think I have a good number of good books in that series to read before I hit the tired ones.

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