Click here to read reviewer Douglas R. Cobb's take on Saturday's Child.
Saturday's Child is a romp through hell. Out on probation for a five-year stint, Callum Innes is operating as an unlicensed P.I., making his way back to normalcy, albeit with the kind of clients who can’t pay much. When “Uncle” Morris Tiernan asks a favor, Innes is in no position to refuse - Tiernan is responsible for thirty-seven bodies and counting, with not a whiff of trouble at his back.
Tiernan wants Cal to track down a local card dealer who has absconded with his money. There are other complications that Cal learns about later, all in due time, his job made much more dangerous by the time he gets to the end of the line.
To make the task ahead more troublesome, Tiernan’s son, Mo, is feeling put upon, upset that he hasn’t been tapped for the job; but Tiernan knows better than to trust his pill-popping son and Mo’s two jumped-up sidekicks. Of course, Mo doesn’t see it that way, intruding in the odd chapter with his drug-addled street patois, posturing for his pals as he threatens Innes and the missing dealer.
Unfortunately, Mo lucks into Innes’ plan, following along as Cal suffers the violent reactions of bouncers and bartenders who are more afraid of Tiernan than any scruffy P.I. Although Mo is supposedly locked down in Manchester by an angry father, he follows Cal to Newcastle, murder and mayhem bouncing in his thoughts like the uppers that careen around his overtaxed brain. Mo would be funny if he weren’t dangerous, stupidly dangerous.
But Cal has his own problems, one of them a tendency to drink too much to think straight. Locating his prey at a gambling club, Cal gets blindsided by a crafty informant, disabled by a beating that leaves him shuddering in a ditch. That’s the problem with Innes: fueled by too much alcohol and not enough sleep, logic departs and impulse rules - hence, beating after beating, no lesson learned.
In Newcastle, the rubber meets the road, Cal realizes the dangerous complications of the job, and Mo brings his fists and a blade to add to the chaos, the Tiernan family tree shaken to the roots by dysfunction and betrayal. Cal will be lucky to get out of this one without doing time back in prison, a situation he hopes to avoid at all costs.
Banks pulls no punches in action, language or violence, the pages splattered with bloody confrontations, out-of-control rage, too many pills and booze, the steady volume of curses endemic to a world that turns its back on kindness and favors brute force.
His reputation already damaged by Mo Tiernan, Cal is caught again in a cycle of unrelenting brutality, struggling to do one good thing in a hard place. Turning his life around proves a lot tougher than Innes has imagined: “Back then I was my own worst enemy. Nothing’s changed.”