EMMA LATHEN – Right on the Money. John Putnam Thatcher #22. Simon & Schuster, hardcover, 1993. Harper, paperback, 1995.

EMMA LATHEN Right on the Money

   A back cover blurb from the Washington Post says, “Still spoofing Wall Street with wild hilarity.”

   Makes you wonder what they were reading, or who. Spoof? Maybe a little, but not much. Wild hilarity? Emma Lathen? I hope this person never reads Westlake, or they’ll have to carry him/her to the hospital, or the morgue.

   A large corporation wants to merge with a small, family owned company, and for reasons of their own, the owners of the small company are agreeable. John Putnam and his bank, the Sloan, are bankers for the smaller firm, and as the get acquainted talks begin.

   Ken Nicols, a Sloan employee who has appeared increasingly in the series, is assigned to participate. A junior manager at the larger company is trying to disrupt the proceedings for his own reasons. Then a fire occurs at the small company, destroying many records, and then the troublemaker is found murdered at a trade show at which both companies were present.

   Lathen’s view of business finally seems to be reflecting the 80s and 90s a bit. As in all her books, we get thoroughly acquainted with all the players on both sides of the equation, and with the businesses they are engaged in. Thatcher as usual appears sporadically during the course of the book, but also as usual, provides the final solution.

   I’ve always liked the Thatcher books, and still do. Though they aren’t deep, they’re amiable and well-written. But wild hilarity, now … gimme a break, okay?

— Reprinted from Ah, Sweet Mysteries #9, September 1993.