Richie, a young criminal not long out of prison and odd-job man for Goose, a wheelchair-bound crook who claims he got his injury during the Falklands conflict, although everybody knows it was from mainlining a leg artery, is given the task of picking up a Magnum from Florida Al, a shifty hoodlum with a taste for loud shirts.
The pick-up of the gun goes relatively well, but as soon as Richie gets out on to the Leam estate he is attacked and beaten by some local kids, who take the gun from him whilst he’s unconscious.
He then goes in search of the gun with inevitably disastrous results.
Gun is a powerful novella with a nice eye for place and an excellent ear for Tyneside vernacular. It’s written in lean prose that gets on with telling the story rather than dressing the page in adverbs. The characters are believable and well-rounded, even the ones who only stray into the story for a paragraph or two, and Richie is a compelling and tragic protagonist. He’s not a bad-guy, as such, just a human being who’s judgement might be considered highly suspect.
The story unfolds at a cracking pace and, once things really start going badly, Banks expertly cranks up the tension to almost unbearable levels. If you’re a fan of gritty, urban crime fiction, you should stick this on your Kindle straightaway. It’s the kind of cracking read you can polish off on a long commute or a lazy weekend afternoon. Highly recommended.