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Bad Boy by Peter Robinson

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Bad Boy by Peter Robinson

Peter Robinson’s new Inspector Banks novel is Bad Boy, the story of a very bad boy indeed. Jaff McCready, charming and attractive, has a way with the girls. His disgruntled girlfriend, Erin Doyle, makes a big mistake when she decides to take something that belongs to Jaff and return home to her parents for a time out. Erin has been sharing a London flat with two other girls, one her childhood friend from Eastvale, Tracy Banks, the daughter of Inspector Alan Banks.

With Erin out of the picture Tracy decides to try her luck with Jaff, and immediately falls into a relationship with him. Tracy is an unhappy young woman. Her brother, Brian, is a successful musician but Tracy, although finished university did not do as well as she, or her parents, expected. She is rebelling with a couple of facial piercings, and like a lot of young women in Great Britain these days, she is sometimes binge drinking, experimenting with drugs and making some unwise, under the influence, choices about who she has sex with. A relationship with Jaff is the last thing she needs but she doesn’t see it that way - yet.

Detective Annie Cabot describes a bad boy this way, “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 and he leaves early. He always seems to have another iron in the fire, 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 into the room, even though you think he 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. You might be angry, but it won’t last, and you’re happy for a while when he gives all his attention to you, and then it starts all over again.”

That might be a good description of a regular bad boy, but Jaff we soon discover is more than just bad, he is in fact a criminal. It was Jaff’s gun that Erin took, and it is now in the hands of the police who would very much like to know where the owner is. Jaff is on the run, knowing the police will soon be asking him questions he doesn’t want to answer, and Tracy is with him. Tracy thinks it all a bit of a lark, it is exciting and so is Jaff. Tracy’s father is away on holiday, and his isolated home in the country seems a good spot for Jaff and Tracy to spend a few days, before leaving the country.

It is when Alan Bank’s friend and colleague, Annie Cabot, comes to water the plants that things go way out of control for everyone. Annie is surprised to find Tracy in Alan’s home, realizes immediately that she is not alone, and suspects that Jaff is also there. As Annie is encouraging Tracy to leave with her, Jaff enters the room and shoots Annie. Tracy can’t kid herself anymore that it’s all harmless fun. Jaff will now become the focus of a police search, and having discovered that Tracy is the daughter of a police Detective he will not allow her to leave him.

Meanwhile, Tracy’s father Detective Inspector Alan Banks, who has been having a lovely holiday in the United States, returns to find himself apprehended at the airport and taken to the hospital where Annie Cabot is in critical condition. Then he is told that his daughter is a fugitive – unwilling perhaps – on the run with Jaff.

There is no doubt that Tracy is in danger and that her father will become involved in the efforts to find her and to apprehend Jaff – but I’m not going to reveal the conclusion of this novel – it is a mystery after all. I will only say that the light stayed on late the night I finished reading this book.

Bad Boy is the nineteenth novel featuring Inspector Alan Banks, a series followed by readers around the world, and about to become even more well know with the filming of an early novel Aftermath for British ITV, starring Stephen Tompkinson as Inspector Banks. The series will continue with the filming of three more books Playing with Fire, Friend of the Devil and Cold as the Grave in 2011.

On October 30th Peter Robinson was awarded this year’s Harbourfront Festival prize, “based on the merits of his own published work and the time he has invested in nurturing the next generation of literary talent” by the International Festival of Authors. Peter said, “It was a great honour to receive this prize and a privilege to be included among such august company as the previous recipients. Not only is this award an honour for me, but I also hope it represents a small step forward for crime writers everywhere.”

All well deserved success for this Canadian novelist, and a thoroughly good guy.

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