Sunday, February 10, 2013

Review: INSIDE STRAIGHT by Ray BANKS


Inside StraightGraham Ellis, pro pit boss and company man finds himself on the wrong side of management and ends up being transferred from a prestigious casino to one that caters to the lesser likes of gambling society. It’s a demotion showed in mystery, yet stinking of management insecurity. For Graham, the pit is his life – aside from the single guy syndrome of sci-fi-like shows and comics, it’s his only form of reality, a more meaningful way to meander through life. When the transfer comes about as a result of ‘stress’, Graham knows something is off, having been at the top of his game, with only a blip on his near perfect radar as a result of a miss timed whale, their reasoning for the transfer screams scapegoat. Yet management refuse to deal in honesty – rather overused HR buzz terms and contradictory statements. For Graham, the relegation is more than a change of scenery, and one that threatens to eventually place him behind bars instead of cards.

INSIDE STRAIGHT is a very good novel. The protagonist, Graham Ellis is likable despite his flaws. He’s an average Joe out to make an honest living...until a local gangster in Barry Pollard sets his sights on him. Before long, Graham becomes the inside man on a robbery which was meant to turn his life around, leaving him flush and without cause to stay in the hovel of a casino his finds himself This being a Ray Banks book, you can be assured that rainbows and happy sunshine endings aren’t a guarantee. Dreams of ships and wealth turn to nightmares of dismemberment and imprisonment.

I loved the way Banks keeps you guessing, is Graham Ellis victimised or ignorant of his own shortcomings? Blinded by his own perception of self; can it be possible that he really is stressed and his performances in the pit less than exemplary? Or is everyone else wrong? The answer elusive and up to interpretation – it’s great that Banks allows for this flexibility in his latest noir fiction.

There are many strong points to INSIDE STRAIGHT; it’s engaging, character driven, well plotted, and has a turn or two you wont see coming. Yet another great addition to a growing list of must read books by Ray Banks.

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