Monday, November 19, 2012
Blasted Heath, 2011
Alan Slater has got problems. He sells windows, but doesn’t give a damn about job lately. He cheates on his wife, and his marriage is about to fall apart. He has fun in bed with a young student, but shecan send him away any time. But the biggest problem for Alan is his mate Les Beale of uneven temper.
Beale is a gambler, a drinker and owner of a shitty personality. Alan’s colleague in sales office, Les no longer appears to work, all the time hangs in casinos and bars, getting drunk. Les has already hit the black list of most Manchester gambling venues, and it is not surprising, taking in account his temper: at the very beginning of the novel he breaks a nose of one of Chinese gamblers.
Alan is the only one who tolerates the company of his violent friend, but his patience is going to the end. Things at work and at home are deteriorating and then Les makes Alan’s life even worse: engages in illegal card game and kills one of the gamblers. Alan realizes that his past problems are nothing compared to those that had yet to be solved.
Ray Banks, in his re-written debut, follows old traditions of noir, making his protagonist a sales agent. Give your hero profession of a salesman, and be sure that this character just will get plenty of trouble. The worse things get for Alan, the more fun for the reader. Banks knows how to make a character unstable, cruel, selfish, dark, but at the same time attractive. And what is the sales agent if he is devoid of charm?
«Dead Money» is a story about the deadline in human life, if it exists. You temporize and put off major doings and solutions to the very limit, hoping that there is still time, but it turns out that it's too late - the deadline has long past.
Ray Banks is a breath of fresh air in British literature, stinking moldy stuff of police procedurals.