Bad Boy

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

It may not always be obvious, but the main justification for the amount of time and effort that goes into this website is to give Hughesy the chance to recall what he's drunk, read and listened to recently, and I had a forceful reminder of that about a third of the way into Bad Boy, the latest in the extensive (eighteen stories before this one) Inspector Banks series by Peter Robinson.

I've often suggested that one of the main advantages of writing a series that uses the same characters is the chance it gives the author to use the framework of ongoing interpersonal relationships as one of the bases you can build a plot around.

I'm the first to admit that Hughesy's memory isn't what it was, and is a fair bit short of what it could and definitely should be. It's not that long since I read All the Colours of Darkness (the preceding novel in the series) but less than twelve months later I don't have much more than a vague general notion of the plot line.

Under normal circumstances I'd be heading somewhere around here on the website to check the details, but for some reason (presumably the presumption that these things could wait until I embarked on the volume by volume recount that I've done for a couple of my other favourite authors) I'd failed to write it up.

Part of the issue that's going to confront the author who's penning the latest in a series is the amount of back story to filter into the narrative. How much space should you devote to explaining who's who, what's what and how things have ended up the way they are at this point in the series?

The devoted fan who's been aboard for a while, is, of course, going to look at such details with a yeah, well we know all that while someone encountering the characters for the first time may well be scratching their heads and wondering who are these people?

That short term memory issue and lack of a reminder came into play this time around because the events from All The Colours of Darkness and developments further back in the series are significant in the developing plot of Bad Boy.

Robinson's a class act, and I found enough back story scattered through Bad Boy to fill in the gaps without getting in the way of the story. 

The abrupt termination of Banks' latest relationship and other events from All The Colours of Darkness, son Brian's success with his band (The Blue Lamps) and ongoing tensions between Banks' colleagues at Eastvale are all elements in this latest story, which starts with Banks overseas on stress leave when his former next-door neighbour arrives at Eastvale Police Station.

A distraught Juliet Doyle is there looking for her ex-neighbour after finding a loaded unregistered hand gun hidden in her daughter Erin's bedroom. She's expecting Alan will know what to do about it, and will be able to sort things out quietly and without much fuss. Unfortunately he's not there, there are procedures to be followed, and the train of events runs off the rails rapidly when an armed response team breaks into the house to retrieve the weapon and a man dies after being tasered by a confused police officer. 

The fallout from the incident spreads rapidly, and police search Erin's until a couple of days ago residence, which she happens to share with Banks' daughter Tracy, who's now calling herself Francesca as she tries to deal with some of her own issues.


© Ian Hughes 2012