I’ve just seen this review on a Kindle forum for my novel The Gamblers. It’s an interesting perspective from a reader, and writer, who isn’t a regular reader of noir fiction. It’s a combination of good and bad. But I think it’s a well written review and I’m quite happy to share it:
“The Gamblers” by Martin Stanley
Martin Stanley has titled his book “The Gamblers” and that is a most fitting title for it. Stanley presents us with various and assorted people whose lives consist of gambling – with money, with position, with their very lives. He displays for us a dark underside of both humanity and human nature, filled with violence, cruelty, betrayal and lust.
Stanley writes very well, with an eye for detail, and tells an intricate story with a complicated plot. He drew me into his world with the introduction of Mike Kandinsky, a candidate for Gambler’s Anonymous, if ever there was one. Kandinsky has not only gambled away all his money but owes some £3,000 to a loan shark, who is just a tad peeved at not getting his money back on time. Kandinsky is given two weeks (and a beating in lieu of interest) to sell his BMW and pay off the loan shark – or else. Kandinsky doesn’t want to give up his auto and, when presented with an alternative, begins an adventure that threatens to take him into a downward spiral that he may not recover from.
Stanley writes of the addictions that drive men (and women) and how they can make gamblers of the best of us (though his examples are of those who are far from the best of us). The choices Stanley’s characters make left me wincing, though I could see the twisted logic of them. He bars no holds and the violence and degradation of the various characters would likely have caused me to put the book down, were it not for his story-telling ability and writing prowess.
However, Stanley makes what I consider to be a grievous error: He has no sympathetic characters at all. There is not one character in the book for whom I can root. Between the lot of them (and there are a lot of them) one can barely find a single redeeming trait. I can recollect but two instances of what might be considered ‘kindnesses’ (there may have been more, but, if so, the darkness blotted them from my memory) and they are but momentary. For me, this is not enough; I don’t like my stories this bleak. Stanley replies that his book is ‘noir’ and that this feature pervades the species. I’m obviously not in his target audience, so bear that in mind as you contemplate my review.
So, if you don’t mind violence, at time gratuitous, and you enjoy dark stories and the noir genre, The Gamblers may be one for you.