This review was originally posted at Goodreads and imported here later with next to no spell/grammar checking.
It took me a few painful experiences to realise that one needs to be ready for an M. Banks novel. I’m bad with names and flashbacks and Banks' novels have both in spades. This time I was ready, paying attention to every name and every new paragraph, suspicious of flashing to the past.
Against a Dark Background felt less spiky than the other books I’ve read. The torture scenes are fewer and less intense (thank goodness) but there’s also less humour, joy and weirdness about the world (although the Lazy Gun is brilliant). The whole thing is quite dark and there isn’t much to offset that. This is what I expect the Iain Banks (sans M.) novels would be like.
Still, it’s an excellent book, though.