Cal Innes is a train wreck. True, he’s always been something of an emotional wreck or at least existentially depressed, but now, not yet 30, he’s had a stroke. His face is twisted, his speech slow and labored and he walks with a cane. So it’s more than a little surprising to him when Morris Tiernan, that nonpareil among Manchester gang lords, wants to put him to work as a private investigator. Morris Senior wants Cal to find Morris Junior, who seems to have vanished without a trace. Why Cal? Stroke deprivations aside, the family Innes has had a problematical history with the family Tiernan, and it’s no secret that Cal blames the Tiernans for much that’s gone wrong with his life. As for the vanished heir, it’s Cal’s view, and most others’ too, that Mo the malignant is best left among the missing. Still, he signs on for reasons of his own. While Cal sets about tracking Mo, he soon realizes that Detective Sergeant “Donkey” Donkin is stalking him, also for reasons of his own. Exactly what those might be, Cal can’t even begin to guess. But given what a sociopathic bully Donkey is, they’re almost certain to lead to the shedding of blood. Cal’s blood.
Banks (Saturday’s Child, 2006, etc.) does neo-noir with the best of them, but his dark side tends toward the dark and dreary.