Bad Boy
Peter Robinson
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Buy *Bad Boy: An Inspector Banks Novel* by Peter Robinson online

Bad Boy: An Inspector Banks Novel
Peter Robinson
400 pages
October 2011
rated 4 of 5 possible stars

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Robinson’s new novel is shrouded in a fascinating web of murder and intrigue, illicit drug use and gun violence as intrepid DCI Alan Banks races against time to rescue his beloved daughter, Tracy, from her flatmate’s handsome boyfriend, dangerous “bad boy” Jaff McCready. Jaff, a small-time local cocaine trafficker, has been shepherding drugs and money for George “The Farmer” Fanthorpe.

Career criminal Fanthorpe has built up a business of astonishing complexity, combining drugs, dirty money and the profiteering of unwilling sex workers. Fanthorpe is prideful that he’s continued to run a slick operation, and he can’t quite believe it when Jaff goes on the run, taking with him Fanthorpe’s most treasured goods. As the brittle facade of Fanthorpe’s wealthy family business threatens to crack under the weight of the police investigation, Fanthorpe enlists the help of Ciaran and Darren, two “business associates” whose orders are to find Jaff and get the goods back.

Alan Banks is away on holiday in the United States. His trusted colleague, Annie Cabot, is left to field an urgent inquiry from Bank’s friend and neighbor Juliet Doyle. As Juliet delicately fidgets in her chair, she nervously tells Annie that her daughter, Erin, is in terrible trouble. Apparently Juliet has found a handgun on top of Erin’s wardrobe wrapped in a patterned teacloth.

What follows is a tense cat-and-mouse game, the wayward gun pivotal to Bank’s gritty portrait of a violent local drug culture and a father/daughter relationship tested to the brink. Alan blissfully returns to the UK, unable to comprehend the terrible sequence of events. Suddenly he's thrust into the hunt for his precious Tracy - who had been sharing a house with Erin Doyle - but has abruptly gone off with Jaff to London on an adventure that at first both excited and scared her.

Tracy fancied Jaff even though she thought him "a bit dodgy" with his weed and his blow and the cheeky, devil-may-care bad-boy attitude he exudes. Soon enough, however, a deep feeling of unease stirs inside her, "seeping like a damp chill of winter" through her flesh.

As Banks is waylaid by pressure from DI Gervaise, Robinson builds his tangled web of connections: the drugs, the money, the guns, an unsolved murder from several years ago, and of course Jaff, who starts to resemble some kind of wannabe gangster and gunrunning coke dealer, at least in Tracy's eyes. When Tracy takes him to hide out in her father’s house, she realizes she’s no longer a bargaining tool. Now expendable and with her mobile phone - the lifeline she holds so dear - gone, she recognizes that she's probably alone with a madman and quite possibly a killer.

Moving through Leeds and Eastvale, the open moors of Yorkshire with their darkening hills and sky, and later Highland Park in London, Robinson creates an awful smell of fear. Although at times a little too dialog-driven, the prose is exact, the plot as chaotic as Jaff’s mind as he spins more and more out of control. Clearly Tracy should have trusted her instincts while she had the chance. Unable to look away, we witness Tracy's life becoming a perilous dance of drugs, sex and violence, the madness and mayhem of power gone haywire as she tries to do everything she can to stay alive, her father desperate to save her.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at © Michael Leonard, 2010

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