Wednesday, 28 May 2014

The Bank Manager and the Bum by Darren Sant


THE BLURB
'When branch manager Giles Macintosh arrives to open up one morning and finds an injured bum and his battered dog lying in the doorway of the bank, he little suspects what lies in store for them all.

Giles does the decent thing and calls for help, then puts the incident out of his mind. However, having been witness to things he cannot explain, he feels drawn to the man and tries to track him down … only to find he has vanished.

But who is the enigmatic, homeless Frank? Why are two very nasty men trying to find him? Why has a prostitute been abducted? And what does the future hold for Giles’s seriously ill son, Jake?

Darren Sant skilfully weaves the various strands to create a compelling story that is as unflinching as it is heart-warming.

As the story unfolds, the tension increases and the true nature of Frank’s amazing secret begins to be revealed. The stakes are high as the criminal and the supernatural come together for a final, inevitable showdown.

THE REVIEW
I first came across the writing of Darren Sant in the fabulous Radgepacket series of books from Byker Books - short and sharp slices of Brit Grit that left little to the imagination. I followed Mr Sant as his own collection of stories were published in two editions of Tales from the Longcroft - Brit Grit stories set on the brilliantly drawn Longcroft Estate. The literary concept of 'world-building' is normally applied to the fantasy genre, but in creating a run-down council estate in which all the stories in these two books are set shows Sant's ability to move beyond the limits of Brit Grit. How bloody jealous of him I am for coming up with such a fantastic concept, he will never know. Though perhaps he knows it now . . . :)

So when I read the blurb for The Bank Manager and the Bum, reading about the 'criminal' and the 'supernatural' coming together, I knew I was in for another interesting, genre-busting read.

The story begins simply enough, a ragged tramp and his dog taking a severe beating from a gaggle of ne'erdowells. Then we move to the life of Giles, the Bank Manager of the title, and his comfy little world. But we soon learn this comfy little world of Giles is to be shattered with the news that his son has been diagnosed with a terminal illness. Giles then witnesses the beaten raggedy tramp cradling his dog, dead in his arms, and miraculously bringing it back to life with a golden glow.

And Giles wonders . . . he wonders if . . .

Throw in a nasty villain or two, a prematurely grieving wife, and a local brass, and you have a novella full to the brim with incident and emotion. And all the time there is Frank - the raggedy tramp - holding everything together with a power he barely understands.

There is a little of The Green Mile in terms of Frank and his relationship with Giles, a relationship of faith and tenderness and, perhaps the writing could have been tighter in places, and in others an edge just a little sharper, but Darren Sant must be congratulated for the courage he shows in once again pushing the Brit Grit genre into places unknown.

After finishing reading this novella, the story and the characters stayed with me long after.

And not many books do that.

The Bank Manager and the Bum is available from Amazon UK here and from Amazon US here

Highly recommended.

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