The act of reading ... begins on a flat surface, counter or page, and then gets stirred and chopped and blended until what we make, in the end, is a dish, or story, all our own.
— Adam Gopnik
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October 12, 2010

Bad Boy

Peter Robinson's books about Alan Banks are one of my favorite series, and the newest one (the 19th, I think) is very, very good. I sometimes think it's funny that I (and some other people, apparently!) think of mysteries and crime novels as 'comfort reading.' and I also know that I read these books as much for the characters as I do for the crimes.  It's getting colder out, and I have a cold, and this was a great book to curl up with.

Once again, I didn't remember what happened to Alan Banks in the last installment, but Robinson works in enough reminders along the way.  As this one starts, he's on vacation in the U.S. and having personal epiphanies in the desert, and Annie Cabbott, his colleague and former lover, is temporarily in charge when Juliet Doyle, Banks' former neighbor, comes to the station and asks to see him. The story that follows involves an illegal handgun, a civilian killed during a police action, and a love triangle involving Juliet's daughter, Banks' daughter, and Jaff McCready, an elegant young man who's involved in crime.

There's no mystery about what happens and who is responsible (until the very end), but, stilll, one of the most enjoyable things about reading this was how suspenseful it was. There's a chain of events, and we don't know how things will end, until they do (some things are left unresolved). That's the sign of a great storyteller...

When I was in Switzerland, I had the chance to see a new British TV adaptation of Aftermath, an earlier book in the series. It was a little gritty and dark, and I'm not sure the program would have drawn me to the books if I didn't already know them. At  first, I didn't think the portrayal of Banks meshed with how he's depicted in the books (too fraught, too intense, too emotional), but maybe it does, after all... 

I haven't been reading as many mysteries as usual lately, so it was nice to have this one and some others on my reading pile. My 'unfrozen' library requests also include the new Simon Serrailler mystery from Susan Hill and the second Josephine Tey mystery from Nicola Upson (but I have to read the first one first...) And I have Donna Leon's newest Guido Brunetti book to listen to. Not bad at all.
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