- File Size: 1129 KB
- Print Length: 622 pages
- Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
- Publication Date: April 11, 2011
- Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
- Language: English
- ASIN: B004W82MYI
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,337,087 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
The Gamblers Kindle Edition
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The hero of "The French Connection" -- Popeye Doyle -- was not especially sympathetic. Neither is the protagonist of "The Gamblers," Kandinsky. In fact, he's a dreadful human being who's trying vainly to redeem himself by the worst means possible. He's surrounded by a huge array of even more loathsome characters, yet some of them (such as Liam the dealer and Dave the ultra-dirty cop) still engage gleams of sympathy as they try to keep their lives on track amid chaos.
The subject matter here is not everyone's cup of tea. The violence is pulverizing (and the raunch factor is very, very high). But I stayed up well past my bedtime last night to finish this because I was compelled to see how it turned out. The intricate web of deceits and double-crosses plays out really well. Every time you think things can't get worse, they do. And the atmosphere -- with a big hand from the regional English locations and accents -- is very rich.
The Gamblers is the author's debut novel, however it is not the first of his I've read and reviewed. It is by far the longest and most complex of his work to date, with multiple strands tying together at the conclusion in the fashion of the film Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels.
Overall I thoroughly enjoyed the story. It is relatively long (for me, at least) but necessarily so - Kandinsky is stealing the money from Spike who is stealing it from gang boss Liam, so all these strands need dealing with. The story nevertheless tripped along and kept my attention, in fact the majority of the time it was gripping.
It was interesting watching the three main characters develop through the novel. Kandinsky is initially largely spineless whereas Spike and Liam are utterly self-assured. The tables turn, however. Don't expect to like any of these people, they have very few, if any, redeeming features and they don't really get any better.
Characters are, in my view, Stanley's strongest suit. He regularly draws firmly outlined people with strong attitudes and behaviours then throws them into tough situations. He also creates a strong sense of place, sufficiently descriptive without being over the top.
As The Gamblers progresses the bodies pile up, sometimes in a gruesome fashion. If a high swear word and death count bother you, this is not a book to read, and vice versa.
I really like Stanley's writing, I'm surprised he's not more visible in the self-publishing world. I particularly enjoyed his previously reviewed Stanton Brothers books. They are short, sharp and to the point, but on the evidence of The Gamblers I'd say the longer story format suits the author -not something I'd usually state. However, if you like this genre, none of Stanley's work will disappoint. Quite the opposite.
**Originally published on Books & Pals blog. May have received free review copy.**