Bad Boy: An Inspector Banks Novel
by Peter Robinson
Cover Artist: Montage by Getty and Corbis
Review by Cathy Green
William Morrow Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780061362958
Date: 01 September 2010 List Price $25.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
As Bad Boy, the latest Inspector Banks novel by Peter Robinson opens, Chief Inspector Banks is not around due to being on vacation in America. His holiday has extremely negative consequences for the Doyle family. Juliet Doyle, a former neighbor of DCI Banks, comes to the police station asking for him. Since Banks is not there, his partner Annie Cabot speaks to her instead. Mrs. Doyle explains that she found a loaded firearm in her daughter's room and wanted Banks's advice on what to do about it. Cabot follows all the rules, notifying her supervisor and the armed response unit, but when the officers enter the Doyle residence, one of them tasers Mr. Doyle, who dies of a heart attack. This sets off a chain reaction that becomes a much larger, more personal case involving the bad boy of the novel's title.
Once Erin Doyle's roommates learn of what happened to Erin's dad, one of them immediately rushes off to warn Erin's boyfriend, Jaff, that Erin had his gun and that the police have recovered it and might be looking for him. Jaff decides to go into hiding, taking Erin's roommate with him. Unfortunately, said roommate is DCI Banks' daughter Tracy. For the first half of the novel, Banks remains oblivious to what is going on, enjoying his holiday in California, because none of his colleagues wants to call him.
Meanwhile, Cabot and her boss Detective Superintendent Catherine Gervais are doing their best to handle the fallout from the Doyle incident and find Jaff and Tracy, a task hampered by having to deal with the awful, publicity hungry, Superintendent Chambers who is in charge of investigating the tasering incident.
Chambers does not like Banks and seems to be focused on finding a way to blame someone and, more specifically finding a way to blame DCI Banks, even though he wasn't involved. Chambers seems to feel that if DCI Banks had been there when Mrs. Doyle came in, being a friend of the family he would have bent the rules and gone to the Doyle home to recover the gun himself and therefore the whole incident was Banks's fault, even though had Banks been there and done it his way, the whole rest of the incident would never have happened.
Meanwhile, Tracy, whose attraction to Jaff seems to stem at least in part from his being a boy her father would not like at all, is finding out that Jaff is a very bad boy indeed and goes from willing casual girlfriend to unwilling hostage around the time she discovers drugs, money and another gun in Jaff's bag. It turns out the police may very well be the least of Jaff's problems, since he has stolen from the people he deals drugs for and the criminals who are looking for him are much, much scarier than the police. By the time DCI Banks gets back to England, things have gone from bad to worse in a fairly spectacular way and keeping Tracy out of prison may be the least of Banks's problems.
Bad Boy is not a whodunit mystery. There is no doubt who the various good and bad actors are and what they did, unlike in earlier Inspector Banks novels where the murderer was not revealed until Banks solved the crime. However, Bad Boy is an excellent combination of thriller and police procedural that fans of the series will definitely want to read.
This is, I believe, the nineteenth book in the series. While it works as a stand alone novel, this is probably not the best place in the series to start. Also, while the reader is given enough information to understand the background of the characters and what their current situation is, it would probably be better to have read the previous couple of books in the series. I had no problem figuring out what was going on despite not having read the most recent four books in the series, and Robinson is too good a writer to leave out background information the reader would need, but I probably would have had a slightly better picture of Banks's current professional and family situation had I kept up with the books. However, that's my problem, not Robinson's.
Fans of the Inspector Banks novels will definitely be satisfied with this latest addition to the series. Robinson has crafted a tightly plotted thriller that brings all the plot threads together to a dramatic conclusion. Recommended.