Saturday's Child by Ray Banks
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Ray Banks' "Saturday's Child" is the first novel in the Cal Innes series. I read the third novel in the series, "Donkey Punch", (reviewed here) earlier and liked it more. For one thing, in "Saturday's Child", Cal's character is still in pupal stage, quite under construction; likely the author himself does not yet know how his protagonist will develop. This alcoholic ex-convict is deeply moral, yet able to viciously beat an opponent almost to death. Is it plausible? Maybe, but Mr. Banks has not managed to convince me.
Cal, quite fresh out of prison, works as an unofficial P.I., finding missing people or evidence. Morris Tiernan, a powerful Manchester crime lord, hires Cal to find a card dealer who absconded with a large sum of money. In the other thread, Mo Tiernan, Morris' psychopathic son, wants the case for himself and is determined to humiliate Cal. The novel's two threads continue in parallel. Of course, we soon find out there is more to the case than just the dealer's disappearance, and we witness numerous heavy beatings.
Mr. Banks is hailed as a standard bearer for "Manchester noir." However, in this novel Cal often agonizes over the moral decisions that he makes; this overthinking is not a very noir treat.
There are some problems with dialogues, for instance Cal's conversation with Alison sounds artificial. Mo's thread is written in a regional dialect, e.g., "They was...", "he were...", etc., and the whole text is full of profanities (for instance, 22 "f-words" and 6 "c-words" in the space of about two pages). Of course, I have nothing against profane speech; people do talk like that all the time (especially head cases like Mo), yet eventually it gets pretty boring.
This is the third best book by Mr. Banks of the three that I have read (the other review is here).
Two and one quarter stars.
View all my reviews