Donkey Punch by Ray Banks

Book Review

Book title: Donkey Punch
Author: Ray Banks
Gareth K Vile | 09 Aug 2007

his hardboiled writing style has become more poised and confident.

By transplanting his thuggish noir from Manchester to LA, Ray Banks' second Cal Innes novel has two sets of mean streets to pace. Not that his grasp of characterisation has gotten any stronger: Donkey Punch is as terse and macho as Saturday's Child, although his hardboiled writing style has become more poised and confident.

As before, Innes is an incompetent investigator: it is his own stupidity that generates the various dramas that enliven the slim plot. Sucked into a world that turns out to be far less corrupt than it appears, Innes stumbles through his adventures, using his fists when a little intelligence would suffice. Other characters shamble in and out, barely defined beyond their usefulness - the rowdy youth, the boxing wannabe, the ambitious father.

The twists and turns of the narrative are evident to the reader, if not to the characters: if Banks is trying to create a grim reality where ignorance is dominant, he would do better if his protagonist was likeable. As it is, Donkey Punch is like a British boxer - promising a great deal at the start, but lacking the discipline, persistence and strength to really take down the Americans.
Out now. Published by Polygon. Cover price £9.99 paperback.