Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Book: No More Heroes, by Ray Banks (UK 2008, US 2010?)

This is the third Ray Banks book I’ve touted in 2009, and the second this month. Why? Because Banks is just that good. And because the photographs that he has of me could be so easily misinterpreted by a judgmental public, various animal rights groups, and the good people at Comfort Inn and Suites.

Ex-con Cal Innes, through with the California dreamin’ of Donkey Punch (aka Sucker Punch Stateside), is back home with a new job serving evictions for Mancunian slumlord Don Plummer. When a publicity storm arises after Cal saves a young boy from a fire in one of Plummer’s deathtraps, he takes advantage by restarting his P.I. business. His first client: Plummer, desperate to know who torched his property and is threatening to do so again.

The sharply-turned, deceptively simple plot ranges the political spectrum from neo-Nazis to crunchy student protestors. But it’s the development of Cal as a character that shines. The Innes books are so closely linked that they’re practically one novel, and Banks capitalizes on the scarce daylight between them. Cal’s every decision has consequences. Many are physical; in a genre where other protagonists shake off a lead-pipe beating like a head cold, Banks makes every bruise count.

And, of course, Heroes is funny. Cal’s voice – profane, grumpy, hopeful – is one of the sharpest in crime fiction.

Beast of Burden, the last of the Innes books, is by all accounts something to look forward to. I’ve got a copy on hand, but I’m not going to dive into it. I want to pace myself.

I give it two weeks. Three at the outside.