Tag Archives: Ray Banks

Spring 2013 – Essential Pre-orders

So the top crime books of 2012 is done and dusted, time to start thinking about what’s coming up next…

Gone Again – Doug Johnstone

‘It’s just to say that no-one has come to pick Nathan up from school, and we were wondering if there was a problem of some kind?’

As Mark Douglas photographs a pod of whales stranded in the waters off Edinburgh’s Portobello Beach, he is called by his son’s school: his wife, Lauren, hasn’t turned up to collect their son. Calm at first, Mark collects Nathan and takes him home but as the hours slowly crawl by he increasingly starts to worry. With brilliantly controlled reveals, we learn some of the painful secrets of the couple’s shared past, not least that it isn’t the first time Lauren has disappeared. And as Mark struggles to care for his son and shield him from the truth of what’s going on, the police seem dangerously short of leads. That is, until a shocking discovery…

Out in early March Gone Again signals a shift in gear from Doug Johnstone. An emotionally fraught novel with a fabulous eye for domestic details, it’s a real heartbreaker.

gone again

Ratlines – Stuart Neville

Right at the end of the war, some Nazis saw it coming. They knew that even if they escaped, hundreds of others wouldn’t. They needed to set up routes, channels, ways out for their friends. Ratlines.’

Ireland, 1963. As the Irish people prepare to welcome President John F. Kennedy to the land of his ancestors, a German is murdered in a seaside guesthouse. He is the third foreign national to die within a few days, and Minister for Justice Charles Haughey is desperate to protect a shameful secret: the dead men were all former Nazis granted asylum by the Irish government. A note from the killers is found on the corpse, addressed to Colonel Otto Skorzeny, Hitler’s favourite WWII commando, once called the most dangerous man in Europe. It says simply: ‘We are coming for you. Await our call.’

Lieutenant Albert Ryan, Directorate of Intelligence, is ordered to investigate the crimes. But as he infiltrates Ireland’s secret network of former Nazis and collaborators, Ryan must choose between country and conscience. Why must he protect the very people he fought against twenty years before? And who are the killers seeking revenge for the horrors of the Second World War?

Like Stuart Neville’s previous books Ratlines merges the political and the personal to great effect. The period details are deftly deployed so that this historical crime novel feels fresh and punchy, and his hero Albert Ryan is a character I’d love to see more of. A bona fide single-sitting read, this one will grab you from page one.


Runaway Town – Jay Stringer

After narrowly surviving a vicious knife attack, gangland detective Eoin Miller thinks he’s earned a break from hunting down thieves, runaways, and stolen drug money. But when crime boss Veronica Gaines tips him off to a particularly sensitive new case, his Romani blood won’t let him say no. A rapist is targeting immigrant girls, and the half-gypsy Eoin knows all too well just how little help an outsider can expect from the local police.

Besides, his client isn’t looking for someone to arrest the bastard. He’s looking for someone to stop him—for good. But the deeper Eoin digs, the more tangled he becomes in a web of corruption, racism, and revenge…especially once his troubled past threatens to derail the investigation by raising questions about his own loyalty and family ties. With his life teetering on the brink of disaster, Eoin realizes there is a fine line between justice and punishment. Now it’s up to him to decide just which side he’s on.

Old Gold, Jay Stringer’s debut, was a cracking read, grim and violent, pacy as hell, and Runaway Town continues in the same strong vein. Eoin Miller is an engaging protagonist, on the wrong side of the law but he has right with him most of the time, and this book takes him into territory often overlooked by crime writers. This series deserves to be huge.

runaway town

Where The Devil Can’t Go – Anya Lipska

A naked girl has washed up on the banks of the River Thames. The only clue to her identity is a heart-shaped tattoo encircling two foreign names. Who is she – and why did she die? Life’s already complicated enough for Janusz Kiszka, unofficial ‘fixer’ for East London’s Polish community: his priest has asked him to track down a young waitress who has gone missing; a builder on the Olympics site owes him a pile of money; and he’s falling for married Kasia, Soho’s most strait-laced stripper.

But when Janusz finds himself accused of murder by an ambitious young detective, Natalie Kershaw, and pursued by drug dealing gang members, he is forced to take an unscheduled trip back to Poland to find the real killer. In the mist-wreathed streets of his hometown of Gdansk, Janusz must confront painful memories from the Soviet past if he is to uncover the conspiracy – and with it, a decades-old betrayal.

Recently picked up by The Friday Project and with a paperback release in February this is a book which really makes a mark. Anya Lipska drags her readers into the murky, crime infested world of London’s migrant worker community and renders it pungent on the page in a way most writers could only dream of. Anya Lipska is definitely a name to watch.


Matador – Ray Banks

A man wakes in a shallow grave next to a corpse to find himself shot, amnesiac and in deep trouble. Meanwhile, an expat drug runner finds out that he’s not the killer he thought he was.

That is all I know about Matador, but I want it. If you’re in the USA you can sign up for it in serial form already at $1.99. In the UK we’ve to wait until February, but on the upside it will be available as a paperback.



True Brit Grit – the Luca Veste Interview

As if he hasn’t already earned enough good karma for the baddest Scouse bastard going with Off The Record, this month sees Luca Veste release another charity anthology for child literacy, in collaboration with Paul D. Brazill.  True Brit Grit features contributions from forty-five of the darkest and dirtiest Brit crime authors around right now, and at less than two quid you’d have to be an animal not to buy it.

Luca’s dropped by to tell us a bit more about it…

So, how are things progressing with the Luca Veste Centre for Kids Who Don’t Read Good?

Great! We have a chair with three legs and a collection of old copies of the Readers Digest now. Hopefully we’ll get a roof for the shed we meet in soon. Been tough with all the rain, not enough armbands to share around.

Serious answer, Off The Record has raised over £200 since December. Happy with that, but would like that total to keep rising.

After going solo with Off The Record you’ve collaborated with Paul D Brazill on this one, I bet he’s a tyrant, he is, isn’t he? Go on, you can tell us.

(sniffs) He…he…calls me names. Like…Beardy, and String Vest. It’s horrible.

I can’t lie, Paul is one of the best. It’s impossible to find anyone who doesn’t respect and like the bloke. He’s a great guy, who I’m honoured to call a mate.

Dude can write as well. Seriously great writer.

The line-up for True Brit Grit is seriously impressive, how did you and Paul go about gathering contributors? Blackmail, bribery, threats to insert things in places they shouldn’t be inserted?

I can’t take any credit. It was all Paul’s work on that front. He must have a list of writers he has the goods on, and just works his way through. I just had to make sure the book did the names involved justice, which I hope it does.

Which reminds me…he still hasn’t sent those pictures back…

It’s an interesting mix of big names and bubblers-under, did you make a conscious effort to try and bridge the gap?

I think the idea with this was always to show the quality of writers out there in the U.K. So, whilst we have big names in there, there’s quite a few lesser known ones in there, and taking away the names, I think it’s difficult to see the difference in quality of writing.

In the introduction Maxim Jakubowski puts the Golden Age of crime fiction firmly in it’s place. Do you see the Brit Grit school becoming dominant finally?

I think for crime fiction, it’s very difficult to beat a good British writer. With the rise of ebooks, it’s proved to be a great platform for the less commercial gritty writers out there to make a mark.

Also, I think Brit writers are getting quite a few fans over in the US as well, which can only be a good thing. Shows there can be a wider audience for those types of stories.

Crime is a universal language anyway. Doesn’t really matter about the setting, every country has similar characters about the place.

Ever tempted to write a cat mystery? Maybe do an anthology of cosies…

An anthology of cat mysteries…now there’s a thought.

Cosies aren’t really my thing. I like death too much. It’s far too interesting to not write about. And death is so horrific, I could never treat it with kid gloves.

I want to do an anthology where every writer writes in a genre they have never written in before. Ray Banks doing a Lee Child style story. That would be cool!

Child literacy is obviously a cause close to your heart; which books fired your reading as a kid?

Enid Blyton at first. Moved onto fellow Scouser Brian Jacques and his Redwall series. Then, I was about 12 at the time, I convinced my Dad to let me read The Stand by Stephen King. Still my favourite book.

I stopped reading anything around the age of 16-17. Then was recommended a Mark Billingham book (his first one, Sleepyhead) about 6-7 years later. Haven’t stopped reading since.

Stav Sherez put it perfectly for me (earlier today in fact) “That’s the thing I love about books, the way they can pull you out of your day to somewhere totally different & make you forget who you are.” That’s exactly how it was for me as a kid. And still continues to be now.

And who’s doing it for you now?

Obvious answer (and always mentioned, and will continue to be for a long, long time) Steve Mosby. I got a sneak peek of his upcoming book ‘Dark Room’. An incredible novel, and his best yet. He’s a remarkable writer, paints intricate pictures with just a few words. Even though I’ve become friendly with him in the past year, reading his stuff just makes me go all fanboy.

Other than Mosby…Helen FitzGerald, Neil White, Mark Billingham, Ian Ayris, Nick Quantrill, Sean Cregan, Les Edgerton, Julie Morrigan, Harlan Coben, Tim Weaver, Dennis Lehane, Will Carver, Tom Wood, Howard Linskey, Ray Banks…I could go on and on. So many good writers working today. We’re very lucky as readers.

If there was one contributor you’d love to get next time around, who would it be?

Sean Cregan aka John Rickards. A fantastic writer, who everyone should be reading.

Never asked him as I have no idea if he even writes short stories, and the dude seems to be constantly busy. Next one, I’m just going to ask. Fuck it, he can only say no.

Or, choke me in my sleep. I’ve heard stories…

True Brit Grit is available now from Amazon UK ans US, and all proceeds go to charity.

Criminal Classics – Ray Banks

Ray Banks is the critically acclaimed author of the Cal Innes quartet and some of the grittiest novellas you’ll ever get your hands on.  His latest, Wolf Tickets, is out now from Blasted Heath.  He’s also the evil genius behind Norma Desmond’s Monkey and The Saturday Boy.

His pick is The Driver’s Seat by Muriel Spark.

The Driver’s Seat is a brief, brutal horrorshow of a novel, and it goes a little something like this: Lise, a thirty-four-year-old “Northern” (probably Scandinavian) woman takes a holiday from her soul-destroying work in an accounts office to spend some time in the “South” (more than likely Italy, probably Naples). Over the course of around forty-eight hours, she will shriek at a sales assistant for trying to sell her a stain-resistant dress, scare a fellow traveller into moving seats on a plane, hook up with a macrobiotic food guru, accompany an elderly woman on a shopping trip, narrowly avoid being raped and then, finally, get stabbed to death. This last event isn’t much of a spoiler, given that Chapter 3 begins:

“She will be found tomorrow morning dead from multiple stab-wounds, her wrists bound with a man’s necktie, in the grounds of an empty villa, in the park of a foreign city to which she is travelling on the flight now boarding at gate 14.”

Spark’s novel doesn’t make it easy to care. Lise is defined wholly by her interactions with others, and her gleefully irrational behaviour can only really be understood on multiple readings, where her deceit, instability, exhibitionism and eventual destruction make more psychological sense. Indeed, it’s only on a second reading that The Driver’s Seat shows its true colours. This is more a novel about free will than it is about predestination, and Spark subverts not only the idea of a murder investigation, but also the murderer-victim relationship. On top of that, she provides a caustic, clear-eyed and ultimately rather prescient commentary on the banality of a modern society that can’t believe in anything beyond its own digestive system. Lise, with her stark, proto-Ikea utilitarian lifestyle becomes the very definition of the hysterical modern consumer, now obsessed with buying the accessories for an ideal death and striving to be remembered, even if it just for her murder. And so The Driver’s Seat doesn’t just work as a crime novel, but also as a pitch-black satire that remains utterly relevant to this day.

– Ray Banks

The Criminal Classics series was prompted by a post which originally appeared at Crime Fiction Lover.