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3.8 out of 5 stars20
3.8 out of 5 stars
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on 1 August 2013
Ray Banks is very much a crime writer's crime writer, with a back catalogue full of dark and deviant grit. However, he deserves a much wider audience and his latest, Matador, could be the book which delivers it. Originally published in serial form, one instalment every two weeks sent direct to your Kindle, I can only imagine how readers who picked it up like this must have itched to receive the next part, because it is a real single-sitting novel.

A man wakes up in a shallow grave, trapped, terrified. He screams and dirt fills his mouth, but a survival instinct kicks in through the pain and the fear, and slowly, agonisingly, he digs himself out, and finds that a live burial is the least of his troubles. There's a bullet lodged in his head and another in his body, his memory is gone, and the only clue to his identity is a ticket to a bullfight with a phone number scrawled on the back.

He stumbles into the nearest town and gets patched up by a local vet, finds a dive bar with a dubious clientele who seem to know him better than he knows himself right then. Calls are made, demands are uttered and violence ensues, but the dead man walking now knows his name at least - Rafael - and he's found what looks like friend. The friend asks questions Raf can't answer, before depositing him at a grubby, roadside brothel to recuperate. The girls there seem to know him too and as he rests up Raf begins to wonder what kind of man he is - married but frequenting whorehouses, with a friend who keeps a gun in his glove box. Is he really the innocent victim he'd like to believe he is, or is there a darker motive to his shooting? Did he maybe do something to deserve it?

The ticket to the bullfight leads Raf back into his forgotten life, one of violence, deceit and betrayal, with wide-boy British drug runners gunning for him the loved ones he can no longer remember are in line the of fire - his wife and son, and the man who trained him up into a formidable matador only to see him corrupted by ego. Raf's on borrowed time, bloodied and beaten, and the only thing keeping him going is a desire for revenge on the men who left him for dead.

If you've read any of Banks' previous work you'll already know what an accomplished writer he is, given to dark humour and moments of extreme violence, adept at creating grotesque, memorable characters. It takes true confidence to centre a contemporary crime novel around a matador and talent to make it work, and it's a huge credit to Banks' skills that you never once question the credibility of the situation, or doubt the capabilities of his tough but flawed hero.

Matador is an intense read, by turns hallucinatory and razor sharp, a driving revenge piece tied to a Brit gangster actioner - think Sergio Leone meets Guy Ritchie, with far better dialogue. It's an absolute must read for fans of the hard stuff.
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on 24 April 2013
Ray Banks is rightly praised for his gritty British crime stories and the bleak, blackly funny Cal Innes series. On the face of it, Matador isn't like any of those books - set in Spain it has an epic, widescreen feel; it feels more ambitious, more adventurous, like somebody's upgraded Banks to Full HD - but while the setting and characters may have little in common with Banks' other books, it's as punchy, powerful and violent as you'd expect a Ray Banks book to be.

It's very hard to describe Matador without giving away any crucial plot points, so I'll keep it short and simple: it's about a killer, and criminals, and memory loss, and what happens when somebody has a score to settle and nothing left to lose. One to pick up and devour in a single sitting.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 21 March 2013
This book includes all of the Kindle episodes and is the completed novel.
Not sure if it was the writing style in general, but the story was often quite confusing. It was hard to determine the why, who or what in some of the scenes.
This may be due to the Brit gangsta like feel of the story, which would translate much better in a script or on screen. That is the charm of the noir like quality of said genre however it is hard to relate that same essence in a book. The result is often pandemonium if not done correctly.
Why the sudden reminiscence about the stolen children of Franco? Was that just to remind readers lest they forget or was there a deeper purpose with one of the characters in mind?
What I did like about the book was the concept of having a dead man as a main character, who is neither vampire nor zombie. Instead he has just decided to not be dead. Imagine being able to right some wrongs after someone has murdered you. I can see that catching on. Combine that with the short term memory of a superbly forgetful goldfish and you have a recipe for disaster. Who am I? Raf. Oh,ok. Who am I? Raf. Right no problem. Who am I.....
Overall the book could do with a lot more clarity, so the reader can better enjoy the interesting concept Banks has come up with.
I received a free copy of this book via NetGalley.
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on 21 May 2013
If you like mysteries and "Lock, Stock" type stories and Spain then you will love this

Characters that are credible, good story line and interesting outcome
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on 14 January 2016
When a dead man wakes up buried alive and with major memory loss this is just the start of his troubles in Ray Banks blistering crime novel Matador set unsurprisingly in Spain. As the narrative twists, turns and unfolds we wonder who is the mysterious man and why was he shot, buried and left for dead? Just who can he trust when he can’t even remember who his friends or enemies are? Told from multiple points of view, while packed with his usual crackling dialogue that just flies off the page; once again author Ray Banks has delivered a riveting crime novel rich in bull fighting detail, that lifts the lid on a deadly underworld existing beyond the beaches, bars and bikinis of sunny Spain. Matador is a masterpiece that’s just as powerful and emotional as the Cal Innes quartet and has left me wanting to read all of Mr Banks books, thank you to Blasted Heath Publishing for letting readers enjoy the considerable writing talent of Ray Banks.
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on 29 January 2014
It was an interesting perspective on how someone might behave if they were allowed to consider their current situation without the perspective of hindsight. I was a little perplexed by how this guy seems to turn into a super-agent with the use of trade craft that, intuitively, he should not have. But a great read and a fascinating slant on some of the British in Spain.
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on 5 January 2016
A great book . An intriguing story that kept me turning the pages, and believable characters that seemed to step off the page. This is my first Ray Banks book, but certainly not the last. I thoroughly recommend Matador, provided you don't mind sitting up half of the night reading to find out what happened next
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on 4 July 2013
I'm a Ray Banks fan. There. I've said it! This is certainly a departure from some of the books of his I've read recently but no less interesting. Crime and bullfighting are not something I usually expect in a book but it made a great change from the usual. Not his best work but still a great read.
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on 30 June 2013
A good read. I have never read anything by this author before, but I think he has made a cracking job of this novel. I will certainly be looking out for this author again in the future
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on 10 February 2014
To start with I was not sure about the book, but I did read through to the end and enjoyed it. It is important to keep tabs on the various characters.
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