Ray Banks’ Gun takes place over a particularly dark day for Richie, a young ex-con hired by local hard man Goose to pick up a gun. It’s a shit job, bitch work even, but he’s newly back on the street and he’s got to start somewhere. And yeah, it’s annoying that Goose doesn’t remember him, seeing how it was him that sent Richie on the errand that got him sent up in the first place, but what can you do? It also sucks that he has to lie to his girlfriend about looking for straight work, but she knew him before his sentence, knows the straight life isn’t for him. But when the gun run goes to shit and Richie has to get it back from some shady fuckers in a strange part of town, a shit wage at McDonald’s starts looking not so shitty after all.
Gun is arguably the purest example of what makes Ray Banks the most singular voice in crime fiction today. It’s got a simple, believable story with well-defined and relatable stakes. The dialogue is fucking brilliantly profane but never too clever. The prose manages to create both a realistic main character and world without even a hint of long-windedness. The tension never lets up but never over-does that shit either, the dread of the universe more authentic and organic than punishingly noir. The violence brings no-shit blood to your ears for how it rings true rather than its over-the-top gore. There’s a social conscience to the piece but the message is left to the reader, the events or prose never coming close to preachiness. The print size is large but not too – jesus christ, let’s wrap this shit up before I start praising the fucking publishing imprint’s choice of URL or some shit.
Basically, the Nerd’s running out of ways to say that Ray Banks has crafted a fucking straight-up great piece of crime fiction that feels like it could happen right now just a few miles away from your house…if you lived in the UK anyway – guns aren’t such a rare prize in the States. (Oh fuck! This shit just got po-lit-i-cal!) But if you’ve read any of Banks’ Cal Innes private eye novels (the last of which, Beast of Burden, is finally available in the US later this summer) you could have probably guessed Gun wouldn’t fall very short of fucking fantastic.