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Author: Peter Robinson

Title: Bad Boy

Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton

Hardback: 405 pages

ISBN: 978-0-340-83695-8

Price: £18.99

Publication Date: 05/08/2010

Inspector Alan Banks is on a relaxing break – or so he thinks [when someone goes on holiday in a crime novel you know something bad is going to happen]. Sure enough, while Banks is drinking and flirting in America, things are starting to unravel back in Eastvale. It begins when the mother of his daughter’s best friend comes to DI Annie Cabbot, having discovered a gun in her daughter’s room. The resultant raid goes disastrously wrong and things go from bad to worse when Banks’s willful daughter Tracy reports the situation to her friend’s boyfriend, Jaff.

Rich, sexy and mysterious, Jaff is patently bad news [you would have thought that growing up around her father’s work would have made Tracy slightly more cautious]. Fearing the police will trace the gun back to him, he goes on the run with Tracy, who wishes to vent her spleen at her absent father. But this act of rebellion soon turns sour when Jaff’s true character emerges. All of this leaves Banks with an unpleasant homecoming [to put it mildly], and even though he is too closely associated to the case he refuses to step back and is willing to entertain alliances and methods that are beyond the pale even for a maverick detective such as himself.

One thing I really enjoy about Peter Robinson’s novels is his ability to blend contemporary concerns into his novels. In Bad Boy these range from drugs, student culture and music through to the problem of unlicensed firearms and how the media reacts to the death of a suspect during a police raid. But Robinson also never lets these strands detract from the taut and dark story at the heart of this novel. It is also incredibly impressive, and proof of quite how at the top of his game Robinson is, that he is able to virtually remove his lead character, Alan Banks, from almost the first half of the book without it suffering in any way. It is testament to the strong group of supporting characters that exist in the series. In fact, the handful of times in which Banks is shown on his holiday [although brief and quite amusing], were the only sections of the book that I didn’t find completely engrossing.

But that was a minor gripe in a book that was a tense and gripping read I couldn’t put down – even though that meant reading until 3am on a work night. I don’t really think praise can come much higher than that.

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