by Ray Banks
originally published via Crime Express (2008)
There is something about certain English accents that really makes it hard for Americans (even Canadians) to understand the English language. I remember channel surfing one time a couple years back and MTV had some British teen reality show with actual subtitles. Bollocks! Anyway, if you like crime stories set in the UK but have trouble with the accents, try reading a book. In fact, you should read this one.
Gun is a novella about a guy named Richie. Richie needs a job, but he's not cut out for the nine-to-five routine, so he asks the local crime boss, Goose. The job: go to Leam Lane, deliver a payment to a hood named Al, pick up a gun for Goose in exchange, and bring it back. Sounds simple, right? Well, it should be, but Richie is a magnet for misfortune. His girlfriend know it too, and despite her warnings and pleas for him to get on the straight and narrow, Richie needs money--fast.
Richie gets the gun without too much of a bother--the gay porn on Al's telly he could've done without--but he barely gets to the bus stop before a trio of charva thugs beat the hell out of him and mug him, namely stealing the gun Richie needs to get back to Goose. And there in lies Richie's problem. He can't go back empty-handed, can't go sulking to Goose for help either, so he dusts himself off and goes in search of the gun.
The extent of my experience with British noir is limited to Guy Ritchie films, so Gun was like a teaser of what I've been missing. To say Gun is a potent, gritty odyssey is like saying a howitzer has a bit of a kick. Ray Banks has a few novels under his belt, but considering the amount of story he packed in this compact novella, this novels must feel downright epic in scale. Whatever the case, I wholeheartedly recommend this book, and I believe I'm going to have to track down more of Ray's work. One of his books recommended to me was Saturday's Child. Sounds like as good a place to start as any.