The Saints Of Hell have pretty much sewn up the criminal world of Toronto. There’s still a mob of Italians and a rogue gang of bikers to share the turf with, but that’s not likely to be the state of play forever.
The novel begins with Get, a US army veteran, transporting arms to The Saints in the hope that he can open up drugs supplies for his mother’s business in Detroit. While in Canada, he hooks up with his contact, JT, who shows him the ropes and reveals just how well-structured the set-up of the Saints is. He also introduces Get to a hooker, Sunitha, who has a few well-honed skills and a desire to pull off a major heist of her own.
Circling around these threads is a police investigation into a killing, a look into the world of swinging couples and an insight into the lives of those at the top of a number of crime families, all of which are engrossing and tightly put together.
It’s an interesting one to try and examine.
First of all, this isn’t the book I was expecting from the opening sequences. I expected a hard drive towards the resolving of a murder investigation and a crash-bang-boom coming together of the crime syndicates concerned.
Instead, the book took a much more considered route and was all the more satisfying for avoiding a simple journey from A to B and C to D.
There are multiple points of view, each of which is thorough and distinct. Through them, as the world shifts and alters balance, there are explanations of history and personal lives that explain just how things to come to be as they are and why each of the next steps seems almost inevitable. The characters are trapped in their own webs of time and place and are what and who they are.
Let It Ride smoulders its way through the action. It slowly peels off layers to reveal deeper flesh and each shift in viewpoint alters the perspective so that the need for an explosive ending becomes redundant. That’s not to say that there aren’t plenty of resolutions to be had – they are scattered through the novel as it moves on – it’s more that each answered question throws up something new to focus upon.
I really enjoyed the style and the depth of this one. The characters are etched superbly and their interactions always ring true. There’s a lot in here about the changing of the city and the comparisons between businesses that are, on the surface at least, legitimate or not so. Issues of race, gender and class come under scrutiny in various forms and these are really well-handled (and within character, of course).
My favourite aspect here is the dialogue. It’s put together as if it’s a work of art in itself and that’s from beginning to end. I found myself purring through the conversations and admiring the craft. It’s super stuff.
All this said, I’m not sure how you can best get hold of it. As far as I can gather, there are second hand hard-backed copies up for grabs and there’s an audio book that can be downloaded for a free trial via Audible as well as being purchased directly. That it’s not available for kindle seems criminal, but I might just be missing something – please add a comment if you can point out a better way to get hold of the book. It certainly deserves to be read and, if I may be so bold, fairly widely.