Thursday, October 15, 2009

Saturday’s Child, by Ray Banks

"The difference between a pub and a bar is that a bar has more mirrors to show you how f---ed up you are."

Cal Innes, ex-con and unlicensed PI, is hired by local mob boss Morris Tiernan to locate a blackjack dealer, formerly in the employ of Tiernan. The dealer has stolen a fair amount of money from Tiernan, and also absconded with the boss’s 16-year-old daughter. To make matters worse, Tiernan’s son, the psychotic Morris, Jr. (aka Mo), doesn’t like the fact his father hired Innes. He starts his own investigation and generally makes Cal’s life miserable.

Saturday’s Child is a terrific blend of humor, violence, drinking, and hidden family secrets – just like all good noirs. The book opens with Cal getting in a fistfight in the bathroom of a local bar and continues chugging along at breakneck speed.

I was already somewhat familiar with Banks and Cal Innes from the short stories on Thrilling Detective and other websites. My memory’s a bit hazy (since it’s been a while), but I remember some of the stories being great and some being kind of hard to read as the characters had thick Cockney accents and used lots of British slang. That’s probably one of the reasons I waited so long to read Saturday’s Child. I should not have been so concerned.

The book is split into two narratives: Cal’s and Mo’s. Cal is a PI, and his style pretty much follows the conventions of the character. Mo, on the other hand, is like a modern day Alex DeLarge – with a lot more profanity. I found reading Mo a lot like reading the later James Ellroy books – once your head matched the rhythm of his speech patterns, everything was peachy.

Banks is another one in the great crop of young writers making their mark. I’m definitely picking up the next in the series and when the other Innes books are released in the US, I’m buying those too. Buy the book. Read the stories.

Highly Recommended.

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