Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Gun, by Ray Banks

• One of the great things about Kindle and e-readers in general: the return of the novella. If no one else has already predicted this, I’ll do the honors. Novellas and short novels are coming back. And thank Christ for that, maybe the days of over-blown doorstop thrillers are nearing an end, eh? One can only hope.
• If Ray Banks novella, Gun, is any indication, there’s some seriously tight, noir-to-the-bone stuff to read. Although, to be honest, most of it won’t come anywhere NEAR Banks’ quality. He’s one of our finest writers, and all his formidable skills are on display with Gun.
• The story: our young hero, Richie, has a simple enough task: go to Florida Al’s place, pick up the gun his boss wants, and bring it back. Piece a’piss, right? If you answered “yes” to that question, then you clearly haven’t read enough modern noir. I want to avoid spoilers here, but I can safely tell you that Richie is in for one seriously shit day.
• One of my favorite things about Banks is his knack for great dialogue. Crime writers in England, Scotland and Ireland have a big advantage over us Americans in that their vernacular is so colorful and entertaining. Everyone’s always saying “Oh, aye,” and talking about “chining” someone or calling other people “lad”… let’s face it, Brit criminals talk cooler than American ones. And Banks knows how to pepper the dialogue with this great language without it ever becoming incomprehensible.
• If you haven’t read Ray Banks yet (and honestly, why haven’t you?) Gun is a good place to start. Short, hard, and brilliantly written. And it’s only 99 cents on the Kindle.


  1. Man, Kindle makes more and more sense by the day. Thanks for that review, I'll check it out.

    Overblown doorstop thrillers is an awesome way of describing a kind of books that ruined my life for a little while.

  2. I read Banks' SUCKER PUNCH, Heath, and there was enough British street slang in that one to last a lifetime. I had to pause on more than one occasion, trying to decipher what I just read.

    I was more than halfway through the book when I realized that nothing was really happening in the story. Of course, this is normally the kiss of death for any novel, yet I continued turning the page on the strength of his prose alone. That's something very few writers can do. David Goodis comes to mind. His THE BLONDE ON THE STREET CORNER had virtually no plot, and yet I couldn't take my eyes off the page.

    No question about it, Banks is a terrific writer.