Thursday, July 20, 2017
FFB: The Money Trap by Lionel White
Unlike White’s famous book, The Killing, his 1963 novel, The Money Trap, does not follow a criminal gang but two New York City police detectives. The book is also unusual because their plans are not thought out in precise detail.
Detective Joe Baron and his friend and partner, Detective Pete Delanos, are assigned a simple case of attempted robbery of a doctor’s office which ended in the death of a junkie burglar at the hands of the medical man who came home early and shot him.
But before he kicks off, the junkie tells Pete the doc is dirty, is selling drugs, and has about a million bucks in cash in his safe. He dies and Pete finds the combination to the safe in his pocket.
Pete takes his partner aside and tells him what he discovered and how easy it would be for them to break in and steal the dough.
Joe is intrigued. He is an honest cop, but he could use the cash. He is married to a young woman raised around money. She is not only used to having things, but also has a trust fund providing her with a larger annual income than Joe makes on the force. Joe resents his wife’s money. His pride will not let him take anything from her. He is in debt after buying a house in an upscale neighborhood to please her, and every day he sinks deeper into a financial hole. He also feels he is the butt of jokes among his wealthy neighbors.
All this drives him to go along with Pete. Together they make some sketchy plans, Pete insisting it will be easy.
But this is a Lionel White novel, and in White’s world nothing is easy and little goes as planned.
The Money Trap is written in White’s blunt, forceful, straight forward style. It is a style he mostly likely developed during his years as a newspaper reporter and editor and later as an editor of detective magazines. The book is a quick read with nicely developed characters – except for the doctor who is a bit of a throwback to the days of the evil criminal genius. The other characters, the cops, the mugs, a chorus girl, and some snotty neighbors, are well done.
(To read my review of Lionel White’s The Killing, click here. To read my review of his novel The Snatchers, click here.)
(To read more posts on books, check out Patti Abbott’s blog, here.)