- Review: The Money Belt
Norm Goldman, B.A. LL.L, is the
Publisher & Editor of Bookpleasures, which he created in 2002.' Practicing law for over 35 years enabled Norm to transfer and apply to
book reviewing his many skills that he had perfected during his career in
the legal profession and as a result he became a prolific free lance
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If you are looking for an off beat hilarious excursion into thriller land, then pick up a copy of Alan Robertsons debut novel, The Money Belt. You wont be disappointed. This one is a pretty good romp into the world of crime with its playful turns of plot and where characters accidentally become entwined into a mind-boggling plot in Marquette, Michigan, a tourist town on the shores of Lake Superior.
The narrative is jump-started when the novels central character, Willy Salo is dumped by his girlfriend Carmen in favor of an older financially well off gentleman. Quite peeved at what has happened, Willy drowns himself in liquor while rationalizing why he was chucked aside.
Willy is a chap who takes pleasure in dreaming up all kinds of lame brain moneymaking schemes. One day, while scrimmaging through the county dump, he discovers an old black money belt lying amid the mounds of rubbish. Willy brings his prized treasure home and applying his little knowledge of electronics comes up with a plan to turn the money-belt into a time bomb where he would place a radio-controlled bomb in the belt, strap it on someone who had a load of cash, and then tell him if he doesnt fork over the cash, he will be blown to bits.
Our protagonist is not quite sure how all of this is going to pan out; however, things begin to take shape when he visits his favorite bar, the Flat Squirrel. It is here where Willy accidentally bumps into Carmen and tries to persuade her to leave her husband and shack up with him. However, Carmen is quite content with her comfortable life style, that is until Willy says he has something up his sleeve that will make him rich, and Carmens ears perk up.
Not knowing what Willy has in mind, Carmen blurts out: you are not going to rob a bank, wherein Willy replies: No hun, Im not going to do itSomeone else is going to do it for me. Carmen is quite sceptical after hearing Willys plan and throws at him all kinds of questions, however, after thinking it over, she agrees to go along with him and promises to escape with him to a far off island after he becomes rich.
While all of this is transpiring, a banker, Eric Kramer is just about to enter his car on his way to a banquet held by his bosss daughter, when he is stopped in his tracks as he helplessly watches his beautiful car being ruined by a fire. While waiting on the roadside, one of his employees, Doreen, who incidentally is also a former girlfriend of Willy, drives by. Kramer asks her where he can find a pay phone and she tells him she will gladly drive him to the Flat Squirrel where he can make all of his necessary calls.
It is at the Flat Squirrel where Kramers meets an attractive blond, Sheila, and where his catastrophic problems begin. Sheila happens to be the girlfriend of a jealous boyfriend, Moose McCullough, who is built like a truck. Sheila comes onto Kramer and unfortunately this leads to a series of unforeseen mishaps where, as Kramer further on in the story recounts, Things happen out of the blue. Things that are totally unanticipated. Things that cant be covered by some plan or insurance policy.
Kramer becomes embroiled in a brawl with Moose, who does not take too kindly to his messing around with his girlfriend. Badly beaten, Kramer winds up in a dumpster behind the Flat Squirrel. Willy and Carmen just happened to be outside of the bar when they witness the altercation. And what is more, after Carmen realizing that Kramer was the president of the First Northern National Bank, yells at Willy: hes the one you want to put the belt on. Think about it! Who better? He can walk right into the bank, walk right to the vault, grab a couple bags of money and walk out again without anyone asking a question. Who would dare? Hes the president of the bank!
From here the plot develops into a rollicking fun tale mingling witty humor with a heightened sense of the absurd with consistently on-target punch lines. In addition, Robertson plays it very close to the chest when it comes to speculating what to expect for an ending. All in all, The Money Belt is an enjoyable read, although probably you wouldnt exactly classify it as your usual crime novel, but then again, who cares? It definitely is a very promising first effort from a writer who has a talent for story telling and I do hope to hear more from him.
Click Here To Read Norm's Interview With Alan Robertson
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