Dead Money by Ray Banks

Review: Dead Money, by Ray Banks (Blasted Heath)

ISBN: (epub) 978-1-908688-04-0 (Kindle) 978-1-908688-03-3

“If you’re playing a poker game and you look around the table and can’t tell who the sucker is, it’s you.”  — Paul Newman

Alan Slater is an affront to double-glazing salesmen everywhere. Alongside the usual display of dubious sales techniques, he physically abuses potential customers, takes drugs, drinks to excess, gambles, cheats on his wife; you’d like to think he gets everything he deserves. He definitely deserves Les Beale, his worse than bad friend who hooks him into a shady poker game which turns into a real-life game of truth or consequences. Trying to out-cheat the cheaters, as Paul Newman could have told them, is a fool’s game and these two are Class ‘A’ fools.

Dead Money is a highly entertaining, quick read; a noir-dime novel updated for the 21st Century. The opening fizzles under Slater’s gaze around the ironically-named ‘Palace’ interior:

I turned to ARFour, which had been doing its spuds all night thanks to the man sweating at the end of the table. He was two-belts fat and he had a habit of pushing his long grey hair back until it was slick to his head. When the dealer spun up, the fat man’s eyes went from ball to layout and he became a child deep in thought, the tip of his tongue poking out the corner of his mouth. Deliberating, digesting and cogitating, just like they used to do on Masterchef.

But, just as the luck of the fruit machine turns with the nudge of the wheel, poker on the turn of a card, so Slater’s luck turns. His mood changes as his role of spectator turns to hunted man and his ability to crack one-liners gets lost in the rising panic. The outcome and how we feel about Slater also changes with his luck. Banks pulls off quite a feat. In creating an anti-hero with whom we side, even as we abhor what he does and everything he stands for, he dispels the oft-repeated nonsense that you need a likeable protagonist to enjoy a story.

It’s not perfect, by any means. It could be tighter and ten pages shorter but it rings so true in character and atmosphere that you’ll be unsticking your sole from the carpet as you press the button two stops after you were supposed to get off.

Dead Money by Ray Banks is one of five titles released [as e-book and Kindle version] under the new digital imprint Blasted Heath which launches on 1st November.

And while you’re clicking that mouse, check Ray Banks’s blogpost over at The Saturday Boy on what Lee Childs thinks of Dead Money



3 thoughts on “Dead Money by Ray Banks

    1. hi & thanks for your comments, Marianne. Ray’s book is fun and quick to read – around 2 hrs or a longish train-ride, but be warned – the imagery, irony and descriptive writing in the early sections will have you giggling out loud. j

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