I thought Ken Bruen wrote some of the hardest crime fiction I’ve read.
Well, Ray Banks is like Ken Bruen — but with all slivers of hope rubbed away.
Callum Innes is the private investigator. Mo Tiernan is the son of the local crime boss. Tiernan’s dad has Innes do a missing-person job: an employee who did a run with some casino money.
There’s lot of drugs, lots of ego, and lots of beatings in here. I marvel that Innes didn’t wind up in the hospital to have a ruptured kidney or spleen removed.
‘What’d he do’ she says.
‘He owes a friend of mine money.’
Her eyes sparkle. ‘You’re going to break his legs, is that it?’
I smile. ‘Nothing like that. Do I look like a legbreaker?’
‘You don’t look like much of anything,’ she says.
‘I didn’t mean it like that. I just meant you don’t look like a legbreaker. I should think before I say stuff.’ She drinks her Coke and leans against the bar. ‘My boyfriend says that.’
‘Your boyfriend sounds like a wanker.’
‘He is.’ She looks out at the pit and yawns. ‘He’s a lazy bastard, right enough. Supposed to be at home right now looking after the bairn, right? Bet you he’s out drinking.’
‘You want to call him?’
‘And get disappointed? Nah. I’ll wait til I get home.’
‘He doesn’t work?’
‘Does he fuck. He’s on disability. Reckons he’s depressed.’
‘Aren’t we all?’
While Ken Bruen sometimes pines for a past Ireland, Banks doesn’t look back at all. Every one of his characters fully inhabit the hell of the present, never wondering why things are the way they are or if anything else is possible. Their only goal is survival — or squishing others.
Add this one to your Must Read list.