Saturday’s Child is another example of the man going down the mean streets who is, at heart, not really mean, but is forced to act that way. Roy Banks paints a dismal picture of the violence and desperation under the surface of the apparently prosperous North. Neither the places nor the people are attractive, and prospects look bleak for his main character, Callum Innes.
Cal Innes has done a stretch in prison and is desperately trying to stay away from a repeat as he operates as a shadowy PI (private investigator, not private detective, apparently an important distinction relating to licensing). His goal is not helped by a liking for the booze and certainly not by the call from the local crime lord, Morris Tiernan, to find an absconding dealer from his dodgy casino. Morris has a pill-popping, evil son, Mo, who fancies himself in his father’s role and isn’t too happy with Cal being given the tracking job. Cal gets on the track of the dealer, Rob Stokes, who has not only gone off with some of Tierney’s money, but also his 16 year-old daughter, Alison.
The story is told from two alternating perspectives – from Cal and from Mo. The language and tone is very effective in conveying the different characters and in keeping up the suspense as the lines of action inevitably merge into a climax. We see that Cal is not really bad, and that his inability to be really mean is his fatal flaw in terms of surviving in his milieu. Mo, on the other hand is very mean, and although a lot of it is talk and bluster, he is capable of evil.
The action is regularly punctuated by violence, some attributable to Cal, some perpetrated on him, as the search moves from Manchester to Newcastle, with the regularity and viciousness of the various beatings apparently in inverse proportion to the victims’ ability to recover from them and still move the action forward. Note the effective use of a cricket bat in this context.
In the end, Cal has to make a decision about how to act, which is not really a decision at all, but certainly provides Roy Banks with plenty of scope for further action for this character.
Saturday’s Child, Paperback 2007 by Polygon, ISBN 10: 1 84697 011 3; ISBN 13: 978 1 84697 011 5
Other books by Roy Banks:
The Big Blind (2004), Donkey Punch (2007), No More Heroes (2007), Beast Of Burden (2008)