British noir at its darkest and meanest.
Cal Innes, who did a prison stretch to protect his junkie brother and keep the Tiernan family from coming after him if he grassed, once again finds himself in Manchester über-gangster Morris Tiernan’s sights. Would he please, as a small favor, hustle up to Newcastle to find Rob Stokes, who thought nobody would notice if he absconded with gambling profits and with Tiernan’s “wee whore” of a daughter, Alison? Morris’s psycho son Mo, who’s quite receptive to the idea of offing his dad and taking over one of these days, is miffed and then some when he’s not asked to catch Stokes himself. He remedies that oversight by heading for Newcastle with his own goon squad, Rozzie and Baz. Who’ll find Stokes first? Some romantic ideals about saving Alison would kill Innes were it not for his 100 percent blood alcohol level and a failing grade in anger management. Banks handles plot U-turns with the bravado of a NASCAR driver, and the fadeout finds Cal more firmly entrenched within the whims of Morris, the wiles of Alison and the blank staring craziness of Mo.
Banks (The Big Blind, 2004) has an ear for the vernacular as sharp as, but a shade or two bluer than, that of George V. Higgins. Let the squeamish stick with Tony Soprano; this is real tough stuff.