Saturday, September 18, 2010

Review of Saturday’s Child by Ray Banks (Polygon, 2006)

As a teenager in inner city Manchester, Cal Innes ran with the wrong gang and ended up in Strangeways Prison for a crime he didn’t commit.  Back on the outside he’s trying to go straight, running unofficial private investigations and attending a boxing outfit for young offenders.  When crime lord, ‘Uncle’ Morris Tiernan asks him to find a rogue casino dealer who’s disappeared with a large amount of money, Innes feels he’s no choice but to take the job.  Only Innes isn’t the only one trying to find the dealer.  Tiernan’s psychopathic son, Mo, is also on the hunt.  Following the trail from Manchester to Newcastle, it’s clear that there’s more to the case than money and unwittingly Innes has put his life on the line to aid father over son.

Saturday’s Child is a gritty view of the Northern underclass; hard men prowling the streets getting into scrapes and dodgy deals, making ends meet with menaces, and the other folk who survive amongst them.  Banks does a credible job of portraying post-prison life and the world of inner city Manchester.  Innes and Mo Tiernan are well penned characters, and the others are mostly more than stock support figures.  In the main the story is well plotted and told.  Banks has a keen observational eye and a nice turn of phrase, and the dialogue and scenes are nicely constructed.  The tactic of having two first person narratives was a little jarring at first but worked well overall.  Where the story started to unravel a little was in the second half.  The relationship with Donna was under-developed and felt like a weak, convenient plot device that served a particular purpose, but went nowhere.  And the ended felt limp and partial, with at least one major thread left hanging.  I don’t mind open endings, but this felt forgotten as opposed to open.  Overall, an enjoyable slice of modern day, gritty, urban, British noir.

1 comment:

Paul D. Brazill said...

This is a cracking series actually. All four books move naturally forward and, I think, improve.