A little less than a year ago, we concluded our review of "Hour of Darkness", the 24th in Quintin Jardine's hugely popular Bob Skinner novels by asking, "Where does Bob Skinner go from here?" After accompanying Bob Skinner over the course of 24 books to the pinnacle of a career in the police, it was clear that a major change of direction beckoned. The 25th book in the series, "Last Resort" is an enormously enjoyable and beautifully crafted novel that could easily have been subtitled "What Bob Did Next". Having decided not to apply for the job of Chief Constable of Police Scotland, a job that was his for the asking, we find that Bob has been packed off to his house in Spain by his partner and ex-wife Sarah, to clear his head and decide what he wants to do with his future.
A welcome distraction arises when he is contacted by an old friend, media owner Xavier Aislado, with a request for help. A man critical to the success of his company has vanished without a trace and he fears that someone is trying to attack his business. We follow Bob and Xavier across Spain, and beyond it, as they follow a trail that becomes increasingly perilous as they close in on the truth. But in the meantime a second, far less welcome distraction also arises, and Bob discovers that he himself is the quarry in a completely unrelated hunt that has been going on without his knowledge for months. With Bob committed to help his old friend in Spain, much of the work involved in protecting Bob and his family back in Scotland falls to his oldest daughter, Alex Skinner, who is herself in the process of making major changes in her professional and personal lives.
The two strands of the story weave together in a wonderfully entertaining way, and we find ourselves alternating between Bob's first person account of his Spanish investigation, and Alex's first person account of her Scottish investigation. Events in Spain have already taken a very lethal turn when Alex leaves a message on Bob's voicemail: "Like they used to say on telly... there's been a murder." A particularly nice touch we don't recall having seen before is the use of different fonts for Bob's account and Alex's account.
We concluded the 24th book in the series unsure of what the future held in store for Bob. There are no such doubts at the end of the 25th book, which in many ways marks a turning point in the series. Bob Skinner's rise to the highest ranks of the police force was as much a constraint for Quintin Jardine as it was for Bob Skinner himself, and "Last Resort" sees both shake themselves free of that constraint. Bob has a much clearer idea of what he wants to do with his future, and from a reader's perspective it is great to see how the opportunities for storytelling have significantly expanded as a result.