I like bad boys. I know lots of people say that, and it can mean many different things. The term “bad boy” is almost used so much as to make the boys in question more ordinary than bad. I’ve talked about my ultimate bad boy prototype, Christopher Whitman (or Donatti, if you prefer) in this post over at Criminal Element. For me, the bad boy can’t get any better, or worse, than that.
But, there are few others who come close to meeting the requirement.
Bad Boys in books are usually damaged in some way. There is a big difference, though, between the naughty prankster who just needs a hug from a good woman, and a man who, often, does the wrong thing. On purpose. Repeatedly.
Jimmy Nash – The Bad Boy of Suzanne Brockmann’s Troubleshooters, Inc series. Jimmy Nash is an assassin. No, wait, he performed “deletions” for The Agency. He’s hot, an expert flirt, so good at his job that he takes unreasonable chances just to make it more challenging. These chances often result in him getting dings, some of which require stitches and/or hospital stays. He never knew his father and his juvenile record culminates with him refusing to rat out a mob boss. Brockman has him describe himself, in the beginning of the book as “first cousin to the devil.” As usual, when you’re trying to make a suitable hero, Nash isn’t as bad as he makes himself out to be. That doesn’t mean he’s good, though. He has some heroic tendencies, some soft spots for widows and children, but that doesn’t stop him from sleeping with a woman he knows his partner is interested in.
Jackson Teller – If you haven’t watched Sons of Anarchy, let me just assure you that you’re missing out. I was one of you, the uninitiated, up until a New Year’s Day marathon run on Netflix showed me what I was missing. Jackson, Jax, Teller is vice president of the Sons of Anarchy Motorcycle Club – Redwood Original or SAMCRO. He’s a young guy who has to deal with some old attitudes on the direction of his club while trying to figure out the direction of his life as well. That’s all well and good, but why does he make the list? While he’s a “new kind of criminal” he is still a criminal. SAMCRO runs guns and they seem to be in a perpetual gang war. They’re in and out of prison, and Jax is in the center of it all. And, can we talk about the swagger for a minute? All bad boys have it, of course, but in books you have to imagine it. The way he walks into and out of a room; His body language when he’s facing down an enemy or sizing up his woman. Jax has ‘it’ and it doesn’t take more than one episode to notice. I often tell people I could just sit and watch him walk on screen for days at a time. The swagger is enough to kill a woman. But, don’t worry, he’s quite capable of killing you the old fashioned way too.
Bastien Toussaint – Bastien is….whoever he needs to be to get the job done. In Anne Stuart’s series start, Black Ice, Bastien’s job is to take down a group of arms dealers for the “The Committee.” We don’t know who they are, but we can guess. Chloe is inserted, accidentally on purpose, in the middle of the deal and Bastien most heroes would be concerned about getting her out of harms way. Bastien, however, barely bats an eyelash at the thought of killing her if she gets in his way.
“She stared at him, a cold sick feeling in the pit of her stomach. ‘Can you tell me one thing? Are you part of the good guys or the bad guys?’ ‘Trust me,’ he said wearily, ‘there’s not much difference.’”
Bastien, and his series bad boy brethren, Peter Jensen and Takashi O’Brien, do bad things, sometimes for a good cause. Each one of them crosses the line, more than once, doing things the “good boys” aren’t supposed to do. And even as I shake the book and curse at them, I can never quite look away. If we lived together, it would be a battle royale every night. But on the page, things work out between us just fine.
Who are your favorite bad boys of the page or screen?
Robin Bradford is a lawyer, a librarian and, most importantly, full on Mortal Instruments and Infernal Devices addict. You can check her out on Twitter @tuphlos, On Unpaged, or on the new blog Collection Reflection