“ Author: Peter Robinson / Format: Paperback / Date of publication: 28 April 2011 / Genre: Crime & Thriller / Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton General Division / Title: Bad Boy / ISBN 13: 9780340836972 / ISBN 10: 0340836972 / Alternative EAN: 9780340836958 „
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People talk about living in others' limelight a lot, and when it comes to British crime thrillers, Peter Robinson has firmly made the move out from there and is a shining light all on his own. the perpetual comparisons with Ian Rankin are justified, as the similarities are all there, but then writing about an Inspector in the British Police Force leaves less room for manoeuvre than we might think. Rankin's damaged Scot Rebus had the inclusion of his daughter into his stories quite early on, Robinson's gruff rule bender Banks has had his own teenage daughter quietly sitting in the wings until now. Bad Boy, the 19th Inspector Banks book, makes things personal for him while spreading the onus of the story across a range of characters.
To reflect on his most recently failed relationship, maverick Detective Chief Inspector Alan Banks has decided a trip to the States is the best idea. When he and his wife Sandra were still together and their kids Brian and Tracy were still growing up, they lived on the same street as the Doyles. When Juliet Doyle arrives at the police station looking for Alan to help with a sensitive matter involving her daughter Erin, little could anyone know the tragic consequences Banks' absence could have. Internal investigations, a cross country manhunt and involvement with a dangerous pair of torturing criminals all ensue, all from the pen in Robinson's hand.
The book starts off instantly, no messing about, as DI Annie Cabbot meets with Juliet Doyle and starts the ball rolling when it's clear there's a potential firearm at large. I thought this was quite good, as usually there is a clear introduction as the scene is set. You don't really have time to catch your breath either really with this, which was alien to me as I like to settle into a book as it gathers pace. This hit the ground running with page 1, and while this was a refreshing element it did make it harder for it to improve as the book went on.
Robinson switches the focus in the first half of the book quite well. A lot of the burden is placed on Annie to take the main reins, and while we do keep flicking to Banks during his trip abroad, it seems out of place, almost as if Robinson is at a crossroads himself with where to take his main character. I'm not surprised; it must be really hard to maintain the diversity in the books, and when you get to nearly 20 books with the same character then this must pose a bigger dilemma than a lot of authors on their 3rd or 4th book. Interestingly enough, this attempt to take him out of the picture a little bit is then slammed down by Robinson as Banks' daughter Tracy becomes caught up with a gun-wielding cocaine dealer desperate to save his own skin.
Robinson tries to escalate things by flaunting the controversy surrounding gun law, and makes sure to incorporate a number of different police procedures into the story, recalling the snivelling Inspector Chambers from the internal affairs branch of the police. He is well written into the book, making you like him even less than a few books ago when he made Annie's life miserable before she returned to Banks' team. There's also the inclusion of armed firearm officers and the attempt by Robinson to diversify even more with allowing some narrative to the various villains in the book, with three different threads falling into this category.
I think I read this Banks book quicker than any other, and I'm not entirely sure this is a good thing. The books I've liked the most in the series are those with the grittiest plots, and no amount of characterisation has diminished this if I'm honest. Here though, the story doesn't amount to a gruesome murder, but instead there is a manhunt to save Tracy and the question of whether Banks should be involved or not just isn't given enough time in the plot; nor is the mindset of the character who has taken Tracy hostage, Jaff. He is a young drug addled criminal with not a care in the world, happy to use a gun and dangerous, but somehow Robinson doesn't get him developed enough within the pace of the book to make it all seem serious enough.
Perhaps it's the constant flitting from one narrative to another, but perhaps it's the fact that you have to suspend belief throughout the book. the inconsistencies stem from tweaking the rules. Firstly, there are numerous attempts to play by the rules with them being extensively followed, only to be shot down in a moment which is then either not elaborated on or swept under the carpet. This happens a few times and to be honest, the pace was so fast all the way through the book that I didn't have time to think about it. As the book progressed though, things like this became all too noticeable and the emphasis on character didn't quite hold out til the end for me.
I don't for a moment want to suggest it isn't worth reading - to say this is a weaker Banks book is no slight on the book, more a compliment to the series as a whole. If you're new to this series and looking for a place to start, I'd suggest the beginning with Gallows View. To start here at Bad Boy would be an error and probably put you off. The main focus is on characterisation and pace, and it just wouldn't be helpful unless you had background on a lot of these characters. To those seasoned Banks readers, look at this as a development in characters and a way to fill some gaps in before the next book. Slightly different tack to the usual gruesome murder and whodunnit thrills, I just hope Robinson returns to what has worked best for the next book. Not so recommended as usual for Robinson.
Bad boy is the 18th DCI Banks murder mystery written by Peter Robinson, the books are set in North Yorkshire/Leeds area of the UK. Bad boy tells the tale of Jaffala McCready whose girlfriend Erin takes his gun in a moment of anger and leaves their flat. Her mother finds the gun and takes it to the police station looking for her old friend DCI Banks. However, Banks is on holiday in San Franscisco and instead of a quiet resolving of the gun events unfold in which her husband dies after being tazzered and once Erin's flat mate finds out she goes to see Jaffala and the pair are now on the run. The flat mate turns out to be Tracy who calls herself Fransesca Banks, she is Alan Banks daughter and the pair end up in Banks' remote farmhouse whilst he's away.
So the pair are on the run, Banks is away and the investigation is being run by Superintendant Gervais and Banks old friend DI Annie Cabat, the history of the gun and the reasons for Jaffala going on the run soon become clear. The reader knows that Banks will return as he is featured even on holiday and of course the use of his daughter ties him into the story.
The DCI Banks stories are some the better joined up crime writing, the plots tend to be believable and the cases well constructed. However, this is the first one I've read which features elopement rather than a murder and the two characters of Jaffala and Tracy are central characters, we find what they are doing from Tracy's viewpoint with the counterview from either Annie or Alan. Of course the pair are on the run but only Jaffala is a villain with Tracy soon becoming weary of the violence and the rather unnecessary sex scenes.
This book moves smoothly between the various characters and we are slowly filled in with the reasons for Jaffala's escape, what crimes the gun has become involved in andof course the book ends with a satisfying shootout. This is the third DCI Banks novel I've read and is so far the worst of the three, whilst I'm not saying that it's a bad novel but compared with the other two there isn't a well constructed crime thriller with plenty of twists and turns and the occasional red herring. We know exactly what's happening either previously from Jaffala and Tracy or slightly later through the eyes of Banks or Annie Cabat.
However, the book does have a few surprises and shocks and does keep the reader engaged throughout but does run roughshod over a few police procedures and some of the events are purely for a fictional slightly contrary DCI who doesn't always follows the rules.
So this is a decent novel, well balanced and has a nice pace throughout but not one of Peter Robinson's best. However, I have just read one of James Patterson's and this novel is so much better it's scary but when compared with the others it just falls short.
I have for several years admired the writings of Peter Robinson. In particular I have always enjoyed the Chief Inspector Banks Detective stories. So when I recently earnt enough points to received an Amazon voucher and there was a book in this series I hadn't read, there was no real decision to make, I knew I had to purchase it.
==About the author:==
Peter Robinson is an English crime author born in 1950. He has enjoyed great success with his DCI Banks stories and this is the 19th in the series. Robinson has won many awards for his pieces of fiction including in 2002 the CWA Dagger Award. This series has now been in my opinion very successfully transferred to television.
==Synopsis of the book:==
The picturesque town of Eastvale in Yorkshire should be quiet, especially as its maverick Detective DCI Alan Banks is out of the country. Surely nothing will happen while he goes to America trying to make sense of another failed relationship. Live however is never like that and while the cat is away the mice are definitely going to play.
However it is when an ex-neighbour of Banks's arrives in a distressed state the fun begins. After discovering he is away and after much coaxing from his assistant DI Annie Cabbot, Julie Doyle confides in her that while cleaning her daughter room in her house she has found a gun and doesn't know what to do about it, hence why she has asked for her old neighbour to help and to advise her.
After a discussion with her senior management team, it is agreed they must follow procedures laid down and call in the Armed Response Team to get the gun from the house. The house only has the daughter Erin and her father in it and when no reply is heard the the Team go in. However in the operation Erin's father is shot by a taser and dies as a result of a heart attack. This will lead to an internal investigation and the Police needing to find out what this ex-university girl is doing with this weapon. This is where the trouble for Banks and his team really starts as one of Erin's flatmates is Banks's daughter Tracy, surely she can't be implicated as surely she must know better?
==My thoughts on this book:==
Before I read this book I thought I would love any book written by Peter Robinson starring DCI Banks, but I was wrong. As I actually thought this was quite a disappointing Detective story. And for anyone new to these books I would certainly not start here. I think you would find this book slow going and even wonder about the credibility of what you where reading. This is because a very simple and in theory easy to manage situation leads to a complex and deadly chain of events.
I think it is far to say that this is an unusual Detective story. My reason for saying this is because for half the story the Police investigation does not involve the star of this series DCI Banks. Indeed the only time he is involved is to advise the reader about what he is doing on his holiday in America. This for a big fan of the Detective like me is odd, yes it is good to know what is happening in his life but I would prefer to see him do what he does best and what I read these books for. So for me there was definitely something missing in this story.
This for me was a brave thing to do from a very talented author. As on the positive side it allowed the reader to learn a lot more about Banks's Team. The ones who are involved in previous books but ones you don't necessarily know too much about. By doing this you got to know, understand more about them and their thinking. For someone who has read these books before I think this is fine but for a new reader to the series I think this would be confusing and mat not really make much sense.
For me this approach while interesting went on too long. I am happy for DCI Banks not to be on every page of the story and to learn more about his team but I thought it would be better to have him back involved long before he finally resurfaced. As without him I found the story a little disjointed as the story moved from what the Police where doing, what his daughter was doing, which was related to the story to what Banks was doing on holiday in America, which was not related or important to the main story.
Maybe as a result of this I found the story for the first half was quite slow. I often criticise author's for their lack of depth, but is it possible to have too much depth and detail? As for me this story had too much, it slowed everything down and left me waiting for something to happen. The level of detail I felt gave you too much of a picture and I felt like I had too much information and some of it was not relevant to the story.
Yet I really liked the concept behind the story. And having heard a lot about Banks's daughter Tracy mainly through his own thoughts about her, I welcomed her inclusion. The idea that she could get involved with criminals and she should know better sounded good, although in the back of my mind I wondered if this was realistic.
This concept was explained in a little more detail in the very short summary on the reverse of the book. It wet my appetite but I would have liked more detail as such a short summary really did not do the book justice and many other readers would need more information before making their buying decision. Although at the same time I was impressed by the array of compliments by other respected authors and Newspapers about this story in particular.
The story when I started it I felt was slow as it seemed to takes ages for the mother of Erin to explain why she wanted to see DCI Banks. And while I found this all well written and interesting the chain of events that resulted from this I really found unbelievable. Maybe I am wrong in this and I will not give any more away of the story I just felt I didn't believe in it and it really stretched the bounds of credibility.
There where aspects to the story what where good and the main thrust of it was good it was just the problem I had of one action leading to a domino effect that was far more serious and complicated. However I found because as always the author is good at creating a variety of multi dimensional characters I was always interested to learn all about them as see how they they would deal with what was happening either to them or around them.
What I did find very strange was in this book they talked about doing things by the book, following laid down guidelines. Yet there where at least two occasions in the story where members of various Police units including Banks's clearly went against this and I found it hard to believe this could happen twice.
The story was for me long and winding and it had a lot of depth to it, so when the resolution to it was very unexpectedly quick and easy I felt more than a little cheated having waded through all the build up to it. For me it seemed all wrong and had I blinked I would have missed it. It certainly did not live up to my expectations and I thought an author of the calibre of Peter Robinson would have come up with something much cleverer and well thought out.
With the last 30 or so pages dealing with all the fall out from the story. Dealing with the after mouth of what had happened and putting back together relationships that had been impacted by what happened in the story. It was like a very long epilogue and while some answers where necessary I thought it was too detailed, too long and a lot of it was not required. For me a longer solution would have been far more desirable as the book had created a lot of suspense and then just let it all go far too quickly.
For me DCI Banks will always be a fascinating lead character. I admire him and feel there is quite a lot of him in most of us. He is always so well described in both his thoughts and actions, I feel like he is an old friend I want to catch up with. So when less than half of the story involves him I was bound to be disappointed especially as his contribution to the solution was quite minimal. But by doing this was the author being realistic, showing he was just a very normal man who as well as making mistakes when it comes down to it is very human as well?
For me the most impressive feature of this story was the depth of the support characters, although in Banks's absence some of these really became more than that. I really feel he creates excellent characters that are very easy to remember and with characteristics it is easy to understand even if you cannot always relate to them, well the baddies anyway!! He always is at pains to demonstrate that modern Police work is complex and every action has a consequence which I think is very realistic.
For me the length of the story was too long. The author spent too much time setting the scene and not enough dealing with the resolution to it. As a simple discovery lead to a massive chain of events that was wide ranging with a solution that was disappointing and far to short. In short he got most of it wrong up to and including the ending of the story that was again too long and I felt the majority was unimportant and added nothing to the story.
Price: 3.79 new at Amazon
Publisher: Hodder Paperbacks
Year first published: 2011
More about the author: www.inspectorbanks.com
For me this was by far the poorest book I have read within the DCI Banks series of detective stories.
Admittedly it was a slightly different approach, which for me just did not work. I would not recommend it and while I was pleased I had read it, it was none the less a big disappointment to me. This series of stories are built around Banks so only having him involved in the case from halfway onwards was in my opinion the wrong decision.
Thanks for reading my review.
This review is published on both Ciao and Dooyoo under my user name.
© CPTDANIELS March 2012.
This is the 20th book in Peter Robinson's long running DCI Alan Banks series about a police detective and his colleagues in the Yorkshire Dales. Unlike the others, it is not a whodunit, but a tale of suspense, as the lives of people close to Banks are at serious risk. I enjoyed this, but would recommend starting with one of the previous 18 novels (#19 was a collection of short stories about Banks), as Bad Boy's storyline will be more interesting to existing fans of the series.
Banks is not even at work for much of this novel, as he has gone on holiday to San Francisco, and the focus shifts to his colleague, friend and sometime lover Annie Cabbot, with strong assistance from Winsome Jackman. I really like Annie, spiky but intelligent and funny. Her character has been developed through the series since she first appeared in In a Dry Season some years ago, and she steps in to the lead role in the crime story in her own right.
An aside: one question I have is why in crime fiction it is still normal to refer to the male detectives by their surnames and their female colleagues by first names - I am doing so in this review because after following the series, I can't think of them as "Alan" or "Cabbot" but I find it a bit irritating. (Interestingly the boss, Superintendent Catherine Gervaise, is referred to normally as Gervaise).
Banks used to live next door to Juliet Doyle, who has come to see him at the office looking for help - she has found a gun in her daughter Erin's bedroom and doesn't know what to do. However, the intervention of an Armed Response Unit leads to tragedy. Police also visit the Leeds flat which Erin shares with two other young women, one of them Tracy Banks. Tracy is in a dead end job, has chosen to call herself Francesca and doesn't tell many people what dad Alan's job is. She goes to warn Erin's boyfriend Jaff that the police have been round asking questions. His reaction is to go on the run, taking Tracy with him, and it soon becomes obvious to the reader that she is in serious danger - Tracy takes a bit longer to realise what a mistake she has made.
I really enjoyed this book while reading it but think it is one of the weaker books in the series. The police work scenes were well done, as Banks' absence gave Annie Cabbot and Winsome Jackman a chance to step into the limelight. I couldn't really understand Tracy's motives for some of her actions - I sympathised with her dissatisfaction with graduate life and not wanting to tell everyone about dad's job, but didn't really understand her motivation for going to tip off Jaff, and I was annoyed by her passivity and rather feeble girly behaviour for quite a long time.
I love San Francisco and it was fun to read about Banks' holiday there, but I think there were too many scenes showing him on holiday, as the narrative regularly shifted away from the police work and his daughter's plight in England. They don't really further the plot at all. He is unaware of what is happening while he is away, and it seems really hard to believe on reflection that he could so remove himself from contact, or that in an emergency, no one would ring him. Also, even when he gets back and finds out that Tracy is in danger, he doesn't let her mum (his ex-wife) know, and the police haven't got round to doing so. Surely the police working on the case would have a responsibility for contacting both Tracy's parents, not just hoping they could sort things out in Banks' absence and never contacting the mother at all?
Despite all this irritating implausibility, Bad Boy is a rattling good read, and I would recommend it to existing fans of the series who have read most of the previous books. If you haven't read Peter Robinson before, the 10th book in the series, In a Dry Season would be a good place to start, as would many of the previous books, or the 12th book, Aftermath, which has just been dramatised for ITV.
Format: Hardback 406 pages
Publisher: Hodder and Stoughton 2010
ISBN: 978 0 340 83695 8
Price RRP £18.99, currently £8.99 from Amazon