Alan is a double glazing salesman, husband to a long suffering wife, boyfriend to a young student, and best mate to Les Beale. Les is a degenerate gambler, all round bigot and somewhat disgusting human being. So, only slightly worse (or better, depending on your perspective) than Alan himself. When Les goes looking for the big win, and wins well, Alan is taken along to keep an eye on Les’ infamous short temper.
However, when Les is invited to another big poker game, and stands to win a potload of cash, Alan isn’t around to rein him in when the evening turns sour… and murderous. Now Alan is stuck up the proverbial creek of faeces with no paddle, and he struggles to keep his life in order, which isn’t so easy when you’re a lying, cheating, borderline alcoholic.
Telling a simple story, in an incredibly diverse and new way, Dead Money is a pitch perfect novel. With multiple nuances of character and setting, Banks can tell a story like no other. By creating rich characters, with realistic force throughout, Banks is one of the most original British writers working today. And Dead Money shows this off in abundance.
It’s the realism that shines through within the prose which sets this novel apart from its contemporaries. With even minor characters seeming like stars for all of two pages, this is a story which screams finesse from every page. It’s hard-hitting, bleak, and relentless, but it’s also one of my favourite reads of 2011. There is not a misstep, bad turn, or wasted word amongst the lot. If you’re looking for me to point any bad points, then you’re looking in the wrong place. There’s not a single bad word I can say about this novel. Meticulously plotted, extraordinarily original, and an incredible way to starting reading Ray Banks if you haven’t already had the pleasure.
At £1.99 on Kindle, it is an absolute bargain. Dead Money is the Ray Banks release from new ebook publishers Blasted Heath. And if this is a sign of things to come from BH, then readers are in for a bonanza.
CFL Rating: 5 Stars