Saturday, December 31, 2011

100 Books 82 - Ray Banks' DEAD MONEY

Well, so, I didn't make it to 100 books this year. Eighty-two is still pretty good, though, especially since I made this challenge even more restrictive by insisting that my 100 books had to be by 100 different authors -- meaning that, for instance, all five enormous extant volumes of George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire only counted as one book.Throw in a few lunkers like Moby Dick (oddly enough the most popular single entry ever at Kate of Mind) and, well, I screwed myself pretty well, didn't I?

Interestingly enough, the protagonist of Ray Banks' Dead Money spends a lot of his story feeling like he's screwed himself pretty well, too, but in much more colorful ways. Arguably, it's really his frienemy, Les Beale, who's really done the screwing, but that kind of spoils my segue, doesn't it?

Dead Money is a quick read and a thoroughly enjoyable one, a Guy Ritchie film in prose, minus a lot of the showing off. It concerns an ordinary man, a door-to-door salesman, whose pal and former idol not only has a gambling problem, but has a gambling problem in Manchester, UK, a city of impenetrable accents (unless one watches a LOT of the Beeb), seedy gambling palaces, and thuggery. At least this slice of it is such, anyway.

It being so short (164 pages -- but you know, that was an ordinary novel length, back in the day. We've just gotten used to doorstops), it's hard to describe without giving things away. It's a nice caper tale, told in a believable and likable first person narrative voice, and brims with slapstick action and just a pinch of drawing room drama.

It was a nice way to round out my year -- and get me psyched up to try again. Tomorrow I start 100 Books again back at #1.

This year, I'm not trying for the unique author thing.

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