Reviewed by: Keith Nixon
Approximate word count: 155,000 – 160,000 words
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Martin Stanley studied to be a graphic designer. A love of crime fiction at an early age led Martin to start writing. He has released several novels, novellas and a short story collection.
You can learn more about the author at his blog.
Kandinsky is a gambler. He’s got way over his head and owes a local money lender, Priest, far more cash than he can afford. He can’t see a way out of his predicament until he overhears someone else’s plan to steal £750,000. Kandinsky decides to get in on the act and rob the robber, but not everything goes as intended.
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.
Plenty of swearing and graphic scenes of violence.
Rating: ***** Five Stars