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Chris High books reviewed

Beast Of Burden

Ray Banks

Polygon (an Imprint of Birlinn Limited)
ISBN-10: 1846970989
ISBN-13: 978-1846970986
31 Mar 2009

Image: Front cover of the book 'Beast of Burden' written by Ray Banks

Absorbing, compelling, gritty, in-your-face and, at times, intensely sad, with Beast Of Burden Ray Banks brings his Callum Innes series to a fitting and dramatic end.


The biggest race riot in Manchester's history and his brother's death have left PI Callum Innes a physical and emotional wreck. He's about to leave his newly established agency to partner Frank Collier when the word comes through that his erstwhile nemesis Mo Tiernan has gone missing. Innes is the only one Mo's ganglord father trusts to investigate, but he's not the only one working the case - Detective Sergeant 'Donkey' Donkin has a vested interest in both the Tiernans and Innes, and he'd sacrifice his career to see them both behind bars. After all, he has a score to settle...And he's not the only one.

With a writing style as smooth as glass and with action as jagged and as unignorable as a broken bottle to the throat, Beast Of Burden follows on brilliantly from Saturday’s Child, Donkey Punch and No More Heroes and does bring the run of Innes to a satisfying conclusion, with all the loose ends neatly bound and tied.

The prose is deliciously dark without ever overstepping the boundaries into the land of parody, with the characters themselves all drawn from the very underbelly of life in the backstreets.

If there’s a complaint its in the at times overbearing glumness, but then again Banks never meant Innes to be Poppins. No happy endings, no safe cop-out leaps in credibility and no bizarre set-ups for the bad guys. Just the safe, assertive agony for everybody involved which is fast becoming, thankfully, Ray Bank’s stock-in-trade.

This may be the end of the ride we’ll be taking with Callum, Daft Frank,  Paulo and Mo but what a ride its been. Now its onto the next rollercoaster and lets hope it goes even faster and twists the blood still further.





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“Writing gets me away for a while' from this world and into one where I, alone, can make or
break the rules as I see fit.” - Chris High 2003.
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