Bad for Good, a review by Joanna

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Bad for Good

Graham Bartlett

Alison & Busby

Published June 23, 2022

385 pages



Missing Line of Duty? Try this for a fix of gritty English policing – it even has Bent Coppers! This debut novel by career police officer and crime writing advisor Graham Bartlett was a pleasant surprise, and has restored my faith in British police procedurals, after one too many formulaic serial-killer-chasing maverick detectives.


Brighton Superintendent Jo Howe is a talented and hardworking detective trying to balance the workload of diminishing funding and rising crime, with caring for young children and the petty politics of the police hierarchy. When a group of vigilantes start taking criminals off the streets, some believe they should be left to get on with it, but then a promising young footballer is murdered – who happens to be the son of Jo’s boss, and former lover, Peter Cooke. Under pressure to solve the crime, Jo must work out who she can trust before more innocent – and not-so-innocent, lives are taken

This was a tense well plotted thriller with believable characters, plenty of twists and lots of realistic procedural details, which convey the frustration of those on the front line trying to do ever more while hypocritical politicians and the rabid media criticise every move they make. The main character is much higher ranked than the DIs and DSs we are used to in crime fiction, but even she gets continual bollockings from higher-ups who think they know better. The Bad Guys were interesting – I generally like fictional vigilantes, but these brought home just why justice should be left to the professionals – they’re as corrupt as the criminals they claim to be targeting. I hope that this is the start of a series and look forward to reading more of Jo’s adventures – especially if the author can stay away from serial killer plot lines! 4.5 rounded up for good writing and a cinematically breathless final action sequence.Β Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC.



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