He applied the "Page 99 Test" to Saturday's Child, which is released this month in US by Harcourt, and reported the following:
Well, page 99 is the start of Chapter Eighteen, so I have less of a page to deal with, but it's the start of a pretty major chapter in Mo Tiernan's development, so it figures that it would be important. We join smalltime drug dealer Mo in a rare moment of downtime – he's smoking a spliff, drinking Courvosier, settled in his beanbag to watch Predator 2 – before he's interrupted by his father, Morris Tiernan.Learn more about the novel and Ray Banks at his website and at Crimespace and MySpace.
"I didn't give a shit, like. Already seen the good bit when the Predator fucked 'em all up, Rastas getting proper splattered all over the shop and this bird with her tits hanging out giving it with the vocals. Weren't as good as the first one, mind."
That's about all the critical analysis you get, because the telly's soon turned off and Morris Tiernan gets on with talking shop with his son – "I didn't know people were still doing pills." – and before you get to find out Mo's mark-up, the page ends.
Great. Nothing special there.
But while page 99 isn't particularly symptomatic of the rest of the book, that chapter is. You're asked to empathise a little with Mo, understand why he ends up doing what he does, primarily by understanding the relationship he has with his father. And there's nothing as insulting to a wannabe hard man than getting bitchslapped by your own dad. Plus, it's just come off the back of a chapter that's had the "hero" of the novel called (quite rightly, as it happens) a hatchet man. So we're switching loyalties a little here, messing with the good guy / bad guy thing.
Which is kind of the point of the book.