Recommended Read: Inside Straight by Ray Banks

inside straightSelf- confessed geek Graham Ellis is a top-class casino pit boss who is ‘demoted’ to a low-rent casino is Salford after an altercation with his boss. While there he encounters Barry Pollard, a local gangster, and things soon spiral way out of his control.

Ray Banks’ Inside Straight is a masterful slice of Brit Grit noir, full of richly drawn, realistic characters, cruel humour, pathos, violence and bad, bad decisions.

Marvelous stuff.

Top Tips: Recommended Reads

So, what have I been reading of late? Well, I’ll tell you…

wolf-ticketsWolf Tickets by Ray Banks

Things aren’t exactly tickety-boo for the aging hard man Cobb. He’s feeling his age, living in a dump of a flat, reduced to drinking gut-rot whiskey and shoplifting from charity shops.

Then he gets a phone call from an old army mate, Farrell, who has just been ripped off  – money and drugs-  by his girlfriend, Nora. He asks Cobb for help tracking Nora down and things soon spiral violently out of control.

Ray Bank’s gritty and funny slice of British lowlife is a smart study of the limits of friendship, full of twists and turns and brilliantly realistic and absurd dialogue.

The Gamblers by Martin Stanley

Kandisky is a loser. A deadbeat student who is addicted to porn and gambling. He also owes Priest, a gangster, a wad of money and is given a few days to get it together – or else.

Liam is a drug dealer who finds out his long-time friend Omar has been ripping him off, not realising that Omar has been working on getting an even bigger piece of Liam’s pie.

The Gamblers is a hard-core crime story, set in Bristol of all places, which captures the spirit of Ted Lewis and brings us BANG up to date with a  cleverly woven, hard-hitting,  multi – character story  of betrayal.

A Moment Of Wrong Thinking by Lawrence Block

A sharp, short story from Lawrence Block that has Matt Scudder going to dinner and hearing about a man who has shot himself in front of his family. This causes him to reflect on a similar case from his days as a policeman.  Perfectly pitched plot, dialogue and characterisation.

The Blues Detective by Andrew Peters

Otis King is a Welsh blues guitarist living in Memphis and working as a private detective. Otis regularly encounters a veritable cornucopia of colourful and lurid characters such as Louie the Falcon, Uncle Gryff, Suki Goodlay, Koko Brown, and meets gangsters, musicians, doughnut munching cops and a politician’s widow who moonlights as a topless wrestler known as The Masked Mistress.  He tracks down missing husbands, missing guitars, missing harmonicas, missing cats. And more.

These Runyonesque yarns and shaggy dog stories are all cracking fun, frequently hilarious and choc-full of laugh-out-loud lines.

Rhondda  Noir  and  Other Perversions  by Gary M. Dobbs

Gary Dobbs is a bloody talented and versatile writer of westerns, horror, police procedurals and even cozies. With this hard-hitting Welsh Grit short story collection he shows how adept he is at full-on, hard-boiled crime fiction.

Rhondda  Lovebite  – what happens after a  successful  post office robbery.

Loose Ends – a man in the wrong place at the wrong time during an afternoon drinking session.

The Man With The Sun in His Eyes – a hit-man flees a murder only to be followed by a mysterious black car.

Rhondda Noir- a security van robbery goes wrong when one of the gang needs to go for a slash.

The Death Match (Dead Man 13) by Christa Faust, Lee Goldberg, William Rabkin.

The latest adventure in Lee Goldberg and William Rabkin’s exciting  cliff-hanger horror /thriller serial, The Dead Man,  is another beaut.

The hero of the series is Matthew Cahill, an ordinary man who was buried alive after an avalanche and is miraculously brought back to life with a terrifying supernatural gift. He travels across America trying to find an answer to his miraculous rebirth and confronting the evil created by the mysterious Mr Dark.

As well as the creators, The Dead Man series has had some great stories from the likes of Harry Shannon and James Reasoner.

The inimitable Christa Faust takes the reins with The Death Match, as Cahill investigates the strange death of a dock worker and ends up involved in the murky world of underground female cage fighting.

Smashing two-fisted, hard-hitting, pulp action.

Cracking stuff !!!  Get stuck in there!

True Brit Grit At The Cinema And On TV

True Brit Grit

A bit back, I wrote an article for The Sabotage Times about Brit Grit television. I took a gander at three shows in particular, Public Eye, Gangsters and Cracker. All were in-your-face, hard-hitting crime dramas from the ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s respectively.

And now, it looks like a bunch of the writers that have contributed to the True Brit Grit charity anthology that I co-edited (with Luca Veste) are going to be putting the grit back on the box.

Tony Black, for example, is due to have his intense crime novel Long Time Dead made into a film, directed by Richard ‘Jobbo The Yobbo’ Jobson. And Black’s debut, Paying For It, is due to have the television treatment.

And there’s more.

Howard Linskey’s critically acclaimed The Drop is being adapted for the small screen by JJ ‘Layer Cake’ Connolly, no less!

Sheila Quigley’s Seahills Estate debut, Run For Home, has been scheduled to be made into a telly series, too.

Adrian Magson’s first Harry Tate novel, Red Station, is due to blast out on to big screen as the start of a franchise to equal that of Jason Bourne!

So, who’s next?

Certainly, Matt Hilton’s Joe Hunter thrillers would make great high-octane action cinema and wouldn’t someone like to be able to get a handle on Charlie Williams’ blackly-comic Mangel books or Ray Banks’ poignant Cal Innes Quartet?

So, if you want to get a taste of these stars in the making, you could do worse than pick up True Brit Grit- A Charity Anthology. Here’s the blurb:

“The BRIT GRIT mob is coming to kick down your door with hobnailed boots. Kitchen-sink noir; petty-thief-louts; lives of quiet desperation; sharp, blood-stained slices of life; booze-sodden brawls from the bottom of the barrel and comedy that’s as black as it’s bitter—this is BRIT GRIT!”

45 British writers, 45 short stories. All coming together to produce an anthology, benefiting two charities…
Children 1st –
Francesca Bimpson Foundation –

The line up…

Introduction by Maxim Jakubowski

1. Two Fingers of Noir by Alan Griffiths 2. Eat Shit by Tony Black 3. Baby Face And Irn Bru by Allan Guthrie 4. Pretty Hot T’Ing by Adrian Magson 5. Black Betty by Sheila Quigley 6. Payback: With Interest by Matt Hilton 7. Looking for Jamie by Iain Rowan 8. Stones in Me Pocket by Nigel Bird 9. The Catch and The Fall by Luke Block 10. A Long Time Coming by Paul Grzegorzek 11. Loose Ends by Gary Dobbs 12. Graduation Day by Malcolm Holt 13. Cry Baby by Victoria Watson 14. The Savage World of Men by Richard Godwin 15. Hard Boiled Poem (a mystery) by Alan Savage 16. A Dirty Job by Sue Harding 17. Stay Free by Nick Quantrill 18. The Best Days of My Life by Steven Porter 19. Hanging Stanley by Jason Michel 20. The Wrong Place to Die by Nick Triplow 21. Coffin Boy by Nick Mott 22. Meat Is Murder by Colin Graham 23. Adult Education by Graham Smith 24. A Public Service by Col Bury 25. Hero by Pete Sortwell 26. Snapshots by Paul D Brazill 27. Smoked by Luca Veste 28. Geraldine by Andy Rivers 29. A Minimum of Reason by Nick Boldock 30. Dope on a Rope by Darren Sant 31. A Speck of Dust by David Barber 32. Hard Times by Ian Ayris 33. Never Ending by McDroll 34. Imagining by Ben Cheetham 35. Escalator by Jim Hilton 36. Faces by Frank Duffy 37. A Day In The Death Of Stafford Plank by Stuart Ayris 38. The Plebitarian by Danny Hogan 39. King Edward by Gerard Brennan 40. This Is Glasgow by Steven Miscandlon 41. Brit Grit by Charlie Wade 42. Five Bags Of Billy by Charlie Williams 43. It Could Be You by Julie Morrigan 44. No Shortcuts by Howard Linskey 45. The Great Pretender by Ray Banks

Get stuck in there!

Short Sharp Interview : Ray Banks

PDB) If your Private Eye hero Cal Innes and Tony Black’s Gus Dury went on a drinking session, who would be the first to get their head kicked in?
Innes would be the first one to get his head kicked in, absolutely. But it’d be Dury that would’ve caused the aggro in the first place – the fucking mouth on that boy … 
PDB) You’ve moved around a bit from Scotland to Hertfordshire and now Newcastle. Do the letters C.S.A. mean anything to you?
Hertfordshire? You got me mixed up with Martyn Waites there, lounging around his palatial mansion, dictating his next bestselling thriller novel like Dame Sally Markham. I’ve never been to Hertfordshire. I’ve been to London every now and then, but I make a point of getting back north as sharp as possible. As for the CSA, they’ll never catch me, though I have seen a lot of kids looking maudlin in bars recently – you wouldn’t know anything about that, would you, Mr Brazill?
PDB)  You used to be a croupier. Did you dye your hair like Clive Owen?
It was regulation. Mine was fire engine red. Everything about that film is true, by the way. When I was a croupier/wannabe writer in a swanky London casino, I regularly bored myself fucking rigid with long interior monologues about how everything was about deception and chance. And then I attempted to do the place over with that doctor missus from ER. Only difference between me and Clive was that I actually wrote some fucking books instead of poncing around like I was someone special.
PDB) What’s your karaoke song?
“La Chanson de Jacky”, Jacques Brel. In French. With the Brel-patented guttural trillage and copious perspiration.
PDB) Your latest book is called CALIFORNIA which takes the hero, Shuggy, from California in Scotland to California in America. Were you tempted to have him stop off in California in Middlesbrough and pick up a parmo?
He’d never have made it out of Middlesbrough alive. Seriously, even a ladies’ parmo is enough to make a bloke pause for a few days of digestion. And you show that kind of weakness down there, they’ll have your hide.
PDB)The philosopher Boy George once said that ‘love means nothing, in some strange quarters.’ What do you think?
I think he’s a tennis fan.
PDB) Are you more Clive Owen, Clive Dunn or Clive Langer and The Boxes?
I’m all Dunn, all the time. He was a POW for four years, man. Hard as fucking nails, and a hardcore Socialist to boot. I might have seen an Irish bluey featuring Clive Langer and The Boxes, though. I would absolutely hate being Clive Owen. Man’s got a face like a torn arse.
‘Most people sound a bit girly compared with Ray Banks.’  -Mark Billingham 
Ray Banks‘ un-girly  website & blog, The Saturday Boy, is here.