Saturday, April 19, 2008

The Money Trap

I've always enjoyed cops turned bad novels. These days when they go bad they automatically become killing machines. I prefer the older style where one murder will do and the book focuses on the mental and spiritual disintegration of the cop. Bad Lt. is the greatest example even though it's certainly modern.

I mention this because last night I read Lionel White's The Money Trap and realized that just about everything I like about genre fiction is packed into that novel. Compelling characters, an extremely cunning storyline and a believable if bitter love story that is truly adult.

Two cops cover a crime scene in which a wealthy doctor claims that he caught a burglar in his bedroom and shot him in the back. The doctor's prestige saves him from any serious scrutiny. But before the intruder died he told one of the cops something about the contents of the wall safe where the doctor hid an illicit one million dollars.

Though the narrator has to be dragged into it, he joins his fellow cop in figuring out how to seperate the doctor from his million. Paralleling this is the story of his disintegrating. For anybody who's ever drunk his way through a bad marriage some of the scenes are pretty grim.

White was a master of the multiple viewpoint caper novel. But I wish he'd written more intimiate I-narratives like this one. He wrote a few others but this was the best.

2 comments:

Vince said...

I'm a big fan of the 1965 film adaptation, with White's novel adapted by Walter Bernstein. Glenn Ford and Rita Hayworth in their last serious screen teaming, and their shared history adds poignancy to the story.

John Stickney said...

Thanks for the tip on this one, a terrific read.