The Big Blind by Ray Banks
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Ray Banks' first novel, "The Big Blind", is mildly entertaining. It may be classified as a thriller, although the first criminal act does not occur until after the midpoint of the book.
Alan Slater works as a window salesman and while he is really good at his job, he prefers to drink in pubs and to assist his officemate and friend, Les Beale, a hopeless gambling addict, in his various misfortunes in casinos. Eventually, Beale gets into really serious trouble, and calls Alan for help. The well-constructed plot is interesting, and does not have too many idiotic twists and turns, so typical for thrillers.
The author, who used to work as a double-glazing salesman and as a croupier, has skillfully incorporated his job experiences into the novel. I love the passages that show how a salesman cons people into signing contracts. Having myself been a victim multiple times, I can now better understand the manipulation techniques. There are also pages and pages of observations of the whole casino gambling business, but being about as interested in gambling as in having my teeth drilled, I am unable to appreciate the depth of the study of poker players' behavior.
The implausibility of relationship between Alan and his beautiful, young girlfriend Lucy is, to me, the main flaw of "The Big Blind". It is beyond belief that she would stick with him despite all that is happening.
It is a minor novel, a trifle, but quite well written and occasionally funny. It is better than recent books of, say, Simon Kernick, because it stops after 170 pages. Kernick also runs out of ideas by page 170, but inexplicably keeps going for 200 more pages.
Two and three quarter stars.
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