My rating: 3 of 5 stars
The Inspector Banks novels have been growing darker of late, and, number 20, Bad Boy, continues the trend in spades. Jaff McCready is one of those handsome charmers who has never developed a conscience, and when Banks’ 20-something daughter falls for him, she fails to recognize the warning signs. Banks himself is on holiday in California, where he has been doing some much needed soul searching while enjoying the spectacular scenery. He returns to England only to find that his partner and one-time lover, Annie Cabbott, is near death in the hospital, and his daughter is on the run, perhaps as a hostage, with an increasingly desperate Jaff.
It takes the first half of the book to set up the dire situation, which plays out slowly in the second. It is not a tale for the squeamish, with a cast of sociopathic characters and a series of sadistic murders. Banks (himself known as the “bad boy” of his department) and his fellow coppers are forced to resort to some unconventional tactics that place all of their careers in serious jeopardy. Bad Boy is a psychologically suspenseful story in which the tension builds chapter by chapter and never lets up. It will be interesting to learn what becomes of Banks, Annie, et al in Robinson’s 21st entry in this series.