Tuesday, November 08, 2005

The Big Blind -- Ray Banks

This is one of those books that you might not want to read if you're feeling depressed. It's about a double glazing salesman named Alan Slater. He runs over a dog, and from there his life goes downhill fast.

Slater's not a bad salesman, and he knows how to work the marks. Some of the stuff about selling windows is pretty funny, and there are also some good scenes set in casinos, which Banks seems to know quite well.

One of Slater's problems (aside from the fact that he drinks way too much) is that he doesn't choose his friends very carefully. Or his friend. There seems to be only one, and he's the wrong one. Les Beale is a guy who's always getting into trouble and always asking Alan to get him out of it. Alan, knowing better, always goes along, and things begin to get really out of hand.
Alan also has a much younger girlfriend whom he treats shabbily.

It's not an easy trick to make you care about someone like Slater, but Banks pulls it off. Slater seems on the verge, several times, of pulling himself out of the mess he's getting into, and you'd like to see him do it. Finally, though, his helpfulness to Beale takes him across the final line, and you know that the end isn't going to be pretty. It's not. It's ugly and appropriate. Cozy fans beware. Those who like their noir short, gritty, and fueld by booze, check it out. This is the real goods.

4 comments:

  1. Anonymous4:29 PM

    He's a good one indeed. I see him as one of the next big things. If he doesn't let that problem with the (wink, wink,) and (nudge, nudge) get him chased down and killed, almost like a noirish Lord Byron.

    Neil

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  2. The only reason they caught up with Byron was that club foot. And I been on the treadmill. THEY'LL NEVER CATCH ME!

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  3. Good review, Bill. I liked it lots myself...those Brits can be pretty damn dark with their prose.

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  4. Yeah, but he's not even close to me...

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