Tag Archives: Mark Billingham

DCI Banks: A New ‘Tec On The Block.

Stephen Tompkinson plays DCI Alan Banks. (Image: onenationmagazine.com)

It’s another new season on TV. The summer detritus has blown away like gas from a fibre diet. With the exception of Sherlock, there was nothing on TV worth investing valuable time. Even the World Cup wasn’t all it should have been.

So what is there to look forward to, now that the autumn schedule is almost in full swing? For sci-fi geeks like me, the return of Fringe and Stargate Universe has pride of place. For more down-to-earth entertainment, crime fans, like me, have two new series to look forward to. Mark Billingham’s creation Tom Thorne comes to Sky next month. I’m especially looking forward to this because I’ve read all of Billingham’s novels, and the casting of David Morrissey (he of The Next Doctor) is inspired.

Image: inspectorbanks.com

Stephen Tompkinson plays DCI Alan Banks in a new two-part story for ITV called Aftermath. It’s based on the twelfth book of author Peter Robinson’s series featuring Banks. I’ve read the first book only, so I’m not familiar with him as I would be with Thorne. But it’s a solid enough start. Banks, like most TV detectives nowadays, comes with his own quirks and demons. He’s a divorced father of two (his ex-wife is pregnant by her new husband), he’s a devoted fan of Jazz music, and he sees his victims watching him as he searches for justice.

This is a twisted story, with enough going on to make come back and watch the second part next Monday. Tompkinson is a good actor; he has that drawn and haunted look that served him well when he played a conflicted Catholic parish priest in Ballykissangel. Provided it gets good reviews and the network are satisfied with the finished product, I can see DCI Banks becoming a regular fixture on our schedules.

To be honest, though, ever since John Thaw and Inspector Morse solved their final case and retired to the Great Police Station Up In The Sky, there has been a dearth of quality TV detective shows. I’m hoping that Banks and Thorne can address this.

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After The Dark Tower Come These…

I reckon I’ll be busy with The Dark Tower series until the end of September. But that doesn’t mean I’m not thinking about what I’m going to read next. For my birthday last week I got a present from my girlfriend of a book voucher for Chapters Bookstore on Dublin’s Parnell Street. So armed, I headed in last weekend and this is what I came out with.

Lock Down by Sean Black

I’m a big fan of action and adventure. At the very start of my “mature” reading I picked up Robert Ludlum’s The Bourne Identity. It was the start of a literary love affair that was to continue until his death. I think I’ve read all of Ludlum’s novels. Nowadays, his successors have tried to duplicate his formula, with Christopher Reich being the best of the lot, in my opinion. I like them short and to the point, though, and I’ve heard good things about Sean Black’s debut, Lock Down. It’s the first in a series featuring ex-military bodyguard Ryan Lock. If this scenario rings familiar bells, it’s because it sounds similar to:

61 Hours: a Jack Reacher novel by Lee Child.

Jack Reacher is the original and the best. Lee Child’s creation is the man I most want to be. A laconic ex-Military Police, former Major Reacher is a man without a home. With nothing in his pocket but a toothbrush and an ATM card, he travels the US, putting wrongs to right, sending the bad guy(s) on a one-way trip to Hell, and nabbing the girl whenever he has a chance. The action scenes in Child’s novels are a masterclass in succinct, tension-filled writing. When I grow up, I want to be an amalgamation of both Reacher and Child. Sigh.

In The Dark by Mark Billingham

Mark Billingham is perhaps better known as the creator of Detective Inspector Tom Thorne of London’s Metropolitan Murder Squad. This book, In The Dark, is his first stand-alone thriller. I’m expecting it to equal Thorne’s best cases, such as Scaredy Cat and Lazy Bones. Billingham also has a career as a stand-up comedian, so his dialogue is lightly spiced with one-liners, as well as wry political observation. I enjoy his writing and I look forward to seeing how Sky TV get on with adapting his characters later this year.

Karin Slaughter is a crime writer I can’t praise enough. From Blindsighted right through to her most recent novel, Broken, Ms. Slaughter (that’s her real name, by the way) tells of events in Grant County, GA. Her recurring characters, Sara Linton, her husband, Jeffrey and Georgia Bureau of Investigation Special Agent Will Trent are well written individuals: damaged, flawed, but instilled with a sense of honour and justice, despite the horrors that face them in each novel. With the purchase of Genesis and Broken, I am now up to date with the lady’s work.

Genesis by Karin Slaughter

Broken by Karin Slaughter

And for my own lady, because of her generosity and love, I return the favour. She is a supporter of Chelsea Football Club, the reigning Premier League champions. This one I bought for her:

The "Special One": Jose Mourinho

The less said about Chelsea, the better…I’m a Manchester United fan. Enjoy your moment, my friends, we’ll be taking it back off you this coming season.