The Business

Competent, but not as dark or engaging as his best work.
Banks' latest mainstream novel is beautifully written, displaying his ever-increasing command of painterly writing. However the plot, though initially engaging, is ultimately unsatisfying and feels somewhat contrived. A degree of naivety or misunderstanding about the mechanisms of a couple of the plot devices (banking and DVDs) is displayed, which further hinders the credibility of the plot. But ultimately the book will be welcomed by fans of Banks; it contains the memorable set-pieces we have come to expect, and the central character (feisty female) is most likeable.

Tangentially, The Business can be interpreted as a slight cross-over into his SF writing; the vastly powerful, strangely democratic and profoundly interventionist Business, the corporation of the novel's title, could be seen as a stage in the evolution of the utopian Culture, the society in which most of his Iain M. Banks books are set. There may be hope yet.

By Sma