Friday, December 30, 2011

Dead Money by Ray Banks

Even if Mr. Banks decided to write a book about the joys of studying carpet fibres, I would relish it now. Why do I say that? Well, I must be honest. I really struggled with Dead Money to start with and was very slow reading the first 20%. As someone who rarely even bothers to buy a lottery ticket and who has a father who used to have a terrible one-armed bandit addiction, the subject was not appealing to me and the title said it all. How glad I am I persevered!
Alan Slater and his sort of friend and colleague Les Beale are window salesmen with a penchant for gambling. To be fair to Alan, he initially acts more as a bodyguard/minder to Beale, although Alan constantly gambles with both his marriage and his soul. When Beale gets involved in a fixed game that goes horribly wrong and loses everything, he turns to the only person he feels can help get him out of a dire situation.  Alan reluctantly goes to his aid with disastrous results.
It’s the sort of tale where you cringe, clutch your head and wail ‘Oh no!’ as things seem to go from bad to worse. The author keeps you glued right to the end with skilful portrayal of the events which overtake Alan and Les. Gamblers need luck more than skill. Who was the most successful gambler? Who was lucky? I’m not telling you! I daren’t say another thing.
The grisly humour did it for me and the author’s wonderful descriptions which had me feeling chilled to the bone as if I was out in the pouring rain, watching. A cracking read.

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