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Start by marking “Ah, Treachery!”. Ross Thomas was an American writer of crime fiction. He is best known for his witty thrillers that expose the mechanisms of professional politics.
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These days, The Porkchoppers has lost some of its power to shock, but at the time it must have been pretty racy indeed. Boone had started small in Chicago, first investing a fair amount of capital in several white-occupied apartment buildings…. Indigo Boone then went into politics, starting small and mildly meek at the precinct level and working his way up the Democratic party ladder, largely by doing those onerous chores that nobody else wanted to fool with, until he was now something of a minor power with excellent connections downtown.

Prior to Boone had helped steal a few elections, but it had been mostly minor stuff that had involved no more than sending some extra Democratic state legislators down to Springfield. But on the night of the election of the word came down to Boone that they would need a few additional Kennedy votes. Boone found them here and there, doing what he regarded as no more than his usual workmanlike job. But as the night wore on, additional word came down that more and more Kennedy votes were needed, that in fact a whole raft of them was needed, that indeed a deluge of Chicago Kennedy votes were needed to offset the downstate trend.

At least he found a lot of them and some said most. He invented new ways to filch precincts right out from under the noses of the Republican poll watchers. He improvised foolproof means of inflating the actual Democratic vote. He fell back on time-honored methods and voted the lame, the sick, the halt and the dead.

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He even, some said, managed to corrupt the voting machines themselves. Illinois went Democratic by 8, votes out of the 4,, that were cast for the two major parties. Hanks was now accusing Cubbin of having sold out the union…it was strong stuff carefully written in an awful, florid style to make sure that it would be both broadcast and printed.

After answering a few perfunctory questions, the press conference ended and Sammy Hanks left the large hotel room on Fourteenth and K Streets and headed down the hall followed by a heavy, stooped, shambling gray-haired man whose bright blues eyes glittered balefully from behind bifocal glasses with bent steel frames. The man had his usual equipment consisting of a Pall Mall cigarette parked in the corner of his mouth underneath a stained, scraggly gray mustache and a newspaper tucked under his arm. He was never seen without either a cigarette in his mouth or a newspaper under his arm because he was addicted to both.

He smoked four packs of Pall Malls a day and bought every edition of every paper published in whatever city or town he happened to be in. He had been at it for more than forty years and for him it contained no more surprises, but he was hooked on it now, as addicted as any mainliner is to heroin.

Mickey Della needed politics to live and he lunched on its intrigue and dined on its gossip. Its heartbreak provided him with breakfast…. And that was the principal reason that he was working for Sammy Hanks, because it was going to be a print campaign, as dirty, nasty, vicious, and lowdown as one could hope for and since it might possibly be the last such campaign ever held, Mickey Della would almost have paid to get in on it.

Della always quoted his fee in precise amounts because he figured exactitude served as balm to the people who had to pay the bill. Sunday was feast day for Mickey Della. Della lived in the same large one-bedroom apartment on Sixteenth Street N. It was an apartment from which two wives had departed and whose goings Della had scarcely noticed. Now he lived alone, surrounded by hundreds of books, some mismatched but comfortable furniture, and six green, five-drawer filing cabinets that were crammed with articles and features that Della had ripped from newspapers and tucked away for future reference.

The apartment was cluttered, but not messy. The ashtrays were all clean, except for the one that Della used as he read his twenty-five pounds or so of newspapers. Only one coffee cup was visible. An old wooden desk with an equally old typewriter in its well had no litter on its surface. Della had cooked his own breakfast that morning, but there was no evidence of it in the kitchen.

His bed was made and his pajamas were hung neatly behind the door of the bathroom whose tub was innocent of a ring. It was the apartment of someone who had lived alone long enough to learn that it was easier to be neat than not. At noon Della crossed to the phone and dialed the home number of the man he bought his liquor from.

I want it to start today, if possible. Yeah, well, the guy I want you to send it to is Daniel Cubbin. Della chuckled as he went back to his newspapers. Later there would be needling harassments that would be far better and much more vicious. But it was okay for a start and just right to set the tone for another Mickey Della campaign.

Probably Thomas thought he needed some murders to sell the book as a thriller, and maybe he was right. Thomas obviously writes himself as Deke Lucas, the cynical, nonviolent researcher who spends most of his time in libraries and exchanges witty barbs with his girlfriend. The Kennedys turn up again when Lucas tells his personal history. Of course he does this because he knew that both sides were dirty.

In late I had been a candidate for a doctoral degree in history at the University of Colorado when Bobby Kennedy had swung through the West looking for people who might like to see his brother nominated President. Although only twenty-one at the time and a nominal Socialist, I had set up an organization that called itself Republican Students for Kennedy. It had made a lot of noise, but not enough to prevent John Kennedy from losing Colorado in the election by nearly 62, votes.

But the Kennedys, devout believers in the spoils system, had been grateful for my efforts and so I was invited to Washington. The first shipment of food was tons of wheat destined for the bellies of the citizens of one of those countries on the west coast of Africa that had just shrugged off a couple of hundred years of British colonial rule.

A third of the wheat disappeared into the black market the same day that it was unloaded. The rest of it just vanished only to turn up a few weeks later when a Dutch freighter, flying a Liberian flag of convenience, dropped anchor in Marseilles. After that I somehow became an unofficial Cupidity and Corruption Specialist, always temporarily inflicted upon one government agency or another that had managed to get itself into hot water.

I usually pried and poked for around for two or three months, digging though records and asking questions and looking grim and mysterious. Then I would write a long report that invariably told a rather sordid tale of greed and bribery on the part of those who sold things to the government and of avarice in the hearts of those who bought them. And almost always they sat on my reports while somebody else scurried about and patched things over. The reports of mine that did surface were major scandals that were already bubbling so fierecely that it was impossible to keep the lid on.

Of these the Peanut Oil King Affair comes to mind. Thomas never goes overboard with metaphors, but he takes some pride in describing the eyes of powerful men. They are usually ice gray. A few pages later Lucas meets Frank Size, the news columnist offering Lucas a job. If contempt had a color, it would be the same shade of gray as his eyes, the pale, cold, glittering gray of polished granite in winter rain. Wheat futures sound like a boring topic for a thriller, but Thomas ratchets up the tension even as he teaches us how the marketplace really works.

As far as I can research, it is all true: It was called the Hope Building, and Pope wondered if it offered any to those who rented its offices. It was a narrow, shabby, nine-story building just south of K Street on Fifteenth, which is bordered on the west by McPherson Square. Four of them were men who were asleep or passed out on the grass. The fifth was an elderly woman who sat on a park bench and talked to herself while she fed the pigeons out of a brown paper sack.

The lobby of the Hope Building smelled of vomit and Lysol and cheap cigars. The sign seemed permanent. There was some green paint on the walls of the lobby that was just beginning to peel. Somebody had thrown up on the floor and a bucket and a mop stood next to the vomit, but nothing had yet yet been done about it. When it came, he got in, and punched the number seven button. At the seventh floor the elevator door clanked open and Pope moved down the hall, guided by the flaked gold paint of an arrow that claimed rooms and were down that way.

He stopped in front of the door that had painted on it in black numerals. Beneath that in smaller letters was, John H. To the right was something called Metropolitan Industries, Inc. Pope wondered if they had all managed to scrape up their July rent. A bolt was drawn. A key was turned. Another bolt was drawn and still another key was turned. The door opened perhaps and inch and something blue looked out at Pope.

He decided that it was an eye. He was very old, although he had a curiously young voice, high and light, almost a tenor. Once started, he was hard to shut up. Commodity Jack reached inside his coat and produced a silver flask. Ever hear of Jesse Livermore? Pity about old Jesse. Sorry to hear about it. Commodity Jack put down his own cup, picked up the phone, said hello, and then started listening. He picked up a yellow pencil and made notes as he listened. Pope looked around the room while he sipped at his bourbon and coffee. One wall was covered with maps.

There were big maps and little maps and maps that seemed to have been torn from the National Geographic and Scotch-taped on top of other maps. Across the room was a bookcase that covered the entire wall and was crammed with books and pamphlets and old copies of the Congressional Record and newspapers and magazines. On the floor was a four-foot-high stack of back copies of the New York Journal of Commerce. The wall nearest the corridor was lined with metal, four-drawer filing cabinets, some green, some gray. Just enough space was left for the office door, although it could be opened only partway before it banged into a cabinet.

The door itself had four Yale locks and three bolts. It was an old desk, scratched and scarred, made out of some dark wood and its surface was covered with graphs and charts and clippings and an electric calculator and three telephones, one of which Commodity Jack Scurlong still held to his ear.

Next to the desk was the small table that held the electric kettle and the coffee stuff. There was a swivel chair behind the desk. The only other chair in the room was the wooden one with the straight back that Pope sat in. The only neat thing in the room was Scurlong himself. He wore a white suit that looked as if it were mede out of linen with narrow shoulders, a pinched-in waist, and a belt in the back. Pinned to its lapel was the bud of a red rose. He wore a blue striped shirt with white cuffs and collar. The cuffs were kept closed by gold cuff links and he shot the cuffs every few moments out of what seemed to be nervous habit.

His tie was narrow and bright blue and his shoes were black-and-white wing tips. Commodity Jack Scurlong, Pope decided, was something of a dandy. He must be at least seventy-five, Pope thought, maybe even eighty. Even while he was just listening on the phone Commodity Jack was in action.

He shot his cuffs, and winked and smiled, made notes, sipped at his coffee and bourbon, found a comb and ran it through his long, white hair, made some more notes, nodded, grinned, and even smirked, made another note, fiddled with some papers on his desk, pulled at his nose, patted his pockets, found a cigarette, lit it, blew three smoke rings, made a note, winked at Pope, shrugged, took off his rimless glasses, breathed on them, polished them with his tie, put them back on, made another note, and fidgeted constantly as though afraid to sit still.

Scurlong had a thin, busybody face with a little black mustache that contrasted nicely with his white hair. His eyes were blue, sky blue perhaps, and shiny hard. They darted quickly about, noticing this and registering that. The face itself was deeply lined with cracks and tiny crevasses, like a piece of fine old rag paper that had been wadded up and then carelessly smoothed out. It was a smart face, Pope decided, maybe not wise, but certainly clever. It was also the face of someone who had made a few mistakes over the years, but refused to brood about them.

He looked at Pope. Commodity Jack looked at his watch. Later over there, you know. Expensive, though, these calls. Well, now, Ancel said you want a crash course. Never heard the phrase before. Means intensive instruction, right? Never had the clap, did you? Some kind of second sight. Well, where should we start? Better have a dab more of this first. What are commodities, Mr. Frozen orange juice, Silver. Plywood, and so forth. And the Chicago Mercantile Exchange which goes for eggs, live cattle, pork bellies, and sorghums, I think.

Makes you think of shifty-eyed chaps, dollar signs on their vests, big jowls, big cigars, fists full of money. Diamonds on their pinkies. You invest in the stock market, but you speculate in the commodity market. It can go down, up, or stay the same forever. You go to your commodity broker. How can I cash in on this wonderful piece of inside dope? Your down payment is about 75 cents a bushel. Your margin is about fifteen percent.

Used to be less, but wheat got volatile, brokers got burned, margin went up. But you want to buy cheap now and sell high in the fu-ture — mark that word — fu-ture. Now when you signed up for your wheat, you signed a contract. You want to know why? Never will own, probably. You think the price is going to rise. If it goes up enough, you sell. So what do you do? Now who buys it? Well, the chap who promised to deliver you 5, bushels of wheat has still got to do it. Now he has to go out and buy it.

But what does he find? Five dollars and fifty cents a bushel for wheat. Commodity Jack shook his head. Maybe next year or the year after. Awful to think of. They excuse speculation, of course. Say it provides a liquid market. Look at what Russians did.

Ah, Treachery!

Especially chaps at Department of Agriculture. Buy million bushels of wheat. More than million bushels of corn. Cash on the barrelhead. Poor old Nixon out in San Clemente. He announces big deal. Commodity Jack tapped his thin chest. Kept getting these calls from London. Chap told me his name was Mr. Told me every move the Russkies made. Put it in the Green Sheet. My people cleaned up. Editor of something called The Southwestern Miller. Kept calling him, too. Must have run up a tremendous phone bill. Long way from London to Kansas City. Never did find out who Smith really was.

Most knowledgable chap though. Cost taxpayers, of course. Senate got mad about it. Called policy inadequate, shortsighted, dictated by outmoded prin-ci-ples. Secretary of Agriculture then. Chap named Palmby, too. He took a nice job with a big grain firm. Created lot of suspicion. Bumbled then, bumble now. Got tip that somebody was rigging Kansas City market. Spent nineteen hundred man hours on it. But they spent it looking up the wrong facts.


Market dotes on rumor. Two types of speculators, actually. Chartists stick to analysis of price movements. Draw up nice little charts. Fundamentalists misnamed, of course. They take big picture. Weather, famine, governments, things like that. One chap I know, fundamentalist. Went grocery shopping with wife.

Wife refused to buy. Chap went to phone, called broker, told him to sell hog bellies short. Spoke of old Jesse Livermore earlier. First time out, Jesse bought cotton. Found himself long , bales. He made it rise, of course. But who would buy? Found a newspaperman on old New York World.

Now the lead starts asking questions relevant to the plot, and it becomes clear that Thomas started his novel specifically in response to the Russian scandal of Ian Fleming is not always thought of as a serious writer, but some of his best chapters may have been an influence on Thomas. When I first met William Corsing he had been the thirty-year-old boy mayor of St. That was in After a rather bitter campaign, nasty even for Missouri politics, he had squeaked in by less than votes after a statewide recount. In he had run against the Nixon tide and won by fifty thousand votes.

He was now forty-two, still young for the Senate, but nobody called him the boy anything anymore. I sat down in one of the leather chairs and instead of going around behind the desk and sitting behind it, Corsing sat down in a chair next to me. Jenny was the tall brunette with the wise eyes and she and the Senator must have used telepathy to communicate, because as soon as we were seated she came into the office bearing a tray with two cups of coffee.

I looked at Corsing. Always remember what they drink and what they use in their coffee. Speaking of drinking, by this time I believe Thomas himself was AA, or at least thinking about joining. I watched as Murfin rose, went over to his suitcase, and starting unpacking. The first thing he unpacked was a fifth of Early Times bourbon that he set up on a dresser. I got up and went into the bathroom and came back with two glasses. I poured some of the bourbon into each glass and then went back into the bathroom and ran some cold water into the drinks.

It was a kind of ritual that Murfin and I had observed when we traveled together. He brought the bourbon and I mixed the drinks. Many Thomas characters drink this humble beverage: I love Yellow Dog Contract until the end, where we are supposed to believe that the game was rigged against the hero to an absurd degree. The form is almost circular, an unsatisfying merry-go-round of endless deceit. There is also the problem of so many violent deaths.

Westlake certainly loved Ross Thomas. Put a Lid On It can also almost be seen as a mild corrective, since Westlake tells his Thomas-style tale without a single murder, an approach that strengthens his frame. Indeed, the hail of gunfire at the end of every Thomas book seems conventional. I wonder if it could have worked for Thomas to dial down the violence, especially since successful political shenanigans in the real world are hardly ever accompanied by multiple murders.

It was while jogging along the beach just east of the Paradise Cove pier that he tripped over a dead pelican, fell, and met the man with six greyhounds. It was the sixteenth of June, a Thursday. Every sentence is fabulous, the partnership of Quincy Durant and Artie Wu is immortal. When taking a scalpel to the social register, Thomas finds Malibu just as plump a target as Washington, D.

The father-brother-son stuff at the end is really unnecessary. This may be just me, though, since all these books have fans. There certainly are some great paragraphs in The Eighth Dwarf. Donovan for the Office of the Coordinator of Information, which, after a number of twists and turns, was to become the OSS.

It was in the OSS that Orr had discovered his true calling: Although he was given the title of deputy director of personnel, his real job had been to champion the OSS cause against its most implacable enemy, the Washington bureaucracy. For weapons he had used his brilliance, his by now immense girth, his bristling beard, his wicked tongue, and his encyclopedic knowledge about everything.

He had awed Congress, intimidated the State Department flummoxed the military, and deceived them all. Most of the strange collection of savants, con men, playboys, freebooters, patriots, socialites, fools, geniuses, college boys, and adventurers who composed the OSS had adored him and called him Nanny. Many of them had needed one. The first 75 pages are solid, but Thomas clicks into high gear with the entrance of Alex Reese in chapter eleven:.

They were the first thing he had ordered after being sworn in as DCI. The radius of the semicircle formed by the chairs was exactly six feet — which, Coombs had calculated, was exactly the distance needed to keep him from smelling the breath of others. As DCI, Coombs saw no reason why he should have to. He had a sensitive nose and wanted to use it to smell his roses — not breaths that reeked of cigarettes, alcohol, and decaying teeth, and especially not poor digestion brought on by ambition and fear and bad marriages. It was how the big man nearly always smelled. Reese could sleep anywhere, anytime, and often did.

He stood six-four and weighed pounds, and a lot of it, although not all, had settled around his gut. He drank a fifth of cheap whiskey a day, much of it before noon, and had been hired by the CIA four times, fired three, and given two medals in private ceremonies, only to see them snatched back and locked away in the name of national security. He was forty-four years old, thrice married and divorced, and was now sexually inclined toward teen-age girls, whom he pursued shamelessly.

Had it not been for his mind, he would have been impossible. His mind was extraordinary. Above the smile was a big nose that leaned right, then left, then right again. On either side of it two secretive gray eyes gazed out on the world with what seemed to be total disbelief. Below all this was an aggressive chin almost as big as a fist. It was an ugly, but somehow wise face, strangely medieval, and strangely corrupt.

Looking again at his CV, one can imagine that Thomas treated himself right on the company dime a few times. No other thriller writer details an expense account quite like this:. In this instance the someone else was the President of the United States. Perhaps the focus on international settings gives it a slightly false tone. Some of the far-flung action scenes could come from a more generic place: Ian Fleming, Robert Ludlum, or their many imitators. Ross Thomas wanted to be Draper Haere. For some reason, sex and politics for Haere had always gone hand in hand.

It was a special bootleg copy, fresh off the Xerox machine, of a precinct-by-precinct breakdown of the voting in California during the just-over election. It was also nothing but a long, long list of names and figures, although to Draper Haere it was a wonderful tale of glorious victory and ignoble defeat, which he read avidly until he fell asleep just before he reached Ventura County. Because of his almost saintly looks, Haere was the first person trusting strangers turned to with their tales of despair and their questions about how to get to Disneyland.

Haere could have been a world-class confidence man. He had instead gone into politics on the nuts-and-bolts side, and nearly everyone agreed that he was the best there was at his particular speciality, which was writing letters to people and getting money back in the mail.

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Haere sat in the old high-backed easy chair he almost always sat in, the Baton Rouge chair, which a dealer in Opelousas had sworn was the last chair Huey Long ever sat in before he was gunned down in Haere collected political furniture. For a year now he had been dickering with a man in Tulsa for a brass spittoon that the almost forgotten Alfalfa Bill Murray of Oklahoma was said to have been partial to. Haere is just one of the many superb characters in the ensemble production of Missionary Stew. The overture is disquieting and the denouement is satisfying. Missionary Stew is the perfect introduction to Ross Thomas.

Indeed, the unnamed town is modeled closely on his hometown Oklahoma City. Thomas is getting a bit of his own back here! Before Dill goes home to find out why his sister was killed, a D. To Benjamin Dill the corridors of the Carroll Arms still reeked of old-style tag-team politics, and of its cheap scent and loveless sex and hundred-proof bourbon and cigars that came wrapped in cellophane and were sold for a quarter one and two at a time.

Once again, a male partnership is central to the plot. Back home, Dill meets up with Jake Spivey, the boy he was poor with, learned dirty tricks with, and lost his virginity with to the same prostitute. Spivey is out on a limb, and Dill works for a non-enforcement side of the law. A kind of climax comes as Dill sits in his hotel room late at night, drinking a Ross Thomas and wondering what to do now that another wanted man has come to town. Dill was trying to decide which telephone call to make first.

He thought there was a possibility that the calls, and especially the order they were made in, might affect the lives of the called in years to come. Because he was having trouble deciding on the order, Dill accused himself of philosophical flabbiness — of letting mere friendship get in the way of duty and responsibility and other such moral obligations. You should cover your ass, he thought. You should go down to the lobby and use the pay phone because someday, maybe even years from now, a neat blue suit with a shiny plastic government issue briefcase will drop by the hotel and demand the records of the phone calls made by a certain Benjamin Dill on that morning of August sixth — on that same hot August morning when he buried his sister and tipped off the notorious international fugitive John Jacob Spivey.

Ask yourself, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, did Dill do this for gain, or for personal profit — or for any motive that you or I could possibly understand? He did it out of something he describes as friendship, out of something he calls loyalty. And just what was the basis for this alleged loyalty? Why, Dill would have you believe that he and Spivey were once pals, mates, boyhood chums — even asshole buddies. Now I ask you, members of the jury, what kind of sociopath would be asshole buddies with the likes of John Jacob Spivey, the most wanted man in the world?

And so forth and so on, Dill thought as he sighed, picked up the telephone, and dialed a number. After he hung up, Dill felt as if he had spent the past hour or so wandering through a vast and largely uncharted land with one of those ancient maps that read: Here There Be Monsters. Dill knew the map was right. He had come this way before. But what if they, after all, are the norm and you are the aberration? The thought enchanted Dill. Its simplicity was compelling, its implicit offer of absolution irresistible.

He was so pleased with the whiskey-inspired notion that he poured the last of the Old Smuggler into a glass and drank it down. I was too young to understand Briarpatch when I tried it for the first time. Of course, when you realize how smart you need to be, it is all that more satisfying a read. He remembers killing several Japanese up close during an incident in the Sebu invasion. During the next half hour Stallings and Crites drank three cups of coffee and discussed the recent not quite bloodless February revolution in the Philippines.

After discovering that neither apparently knew much more than what he had read, or seen on television, they returned to Alejandro Espiritu. Crites wants Stallings to offer terrorist leader Espiritu five million dollars to come down out of the hills and play nice. Overby nodded comfortably, as if if the last few pieces had clicked into place. I went down to the Malibu Library and checked out the book of yours, Anatomy of Terrorism. Well, I read it. Most of it, in fact, but then I quit about three-quarters though. Want to know why? Out on the Rim begins as a delight, but once again, the plot becomes incredibly convoluted.

The seams are obvious when Artie Wu comes up with a plan during the team meeting at the Peninsula Hotel. Durant looked at his watch when Wu began to talk. He talked steadily and confidently, as if from a carefully prepared outline. With a change of pitch, he even dropped in the occasional footnote exactly where needed….


There was a final summary paragraph and Wu was done. Durant looked at his watch. Wu had spoken without pause or interruption for exactly 26 minutes. Thomas should have told us what Wu said! Or at least outlined it himself.

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  7. But we never understand very clearly how the con is supposed to go down. Clarity is crucial because the double-crossing begins almost immediately. This is how it is done. This may be his best writing and unfortunately so close to his last book. Multiple murders, current and ex-military characters, cops, spies, thugs rainmakers an This is how it is done. Multiple murders, current and ex-military characters, cops, spies, thugs rainmakers and debt collectors mixed in with the other un-savories of the world; and a couple of tiny character tie-ins to older books by the master mentioned only in briefest passing were a little treat.

    Enough action and not telegraphed, this one is a treat. Dec 21, Nigel rated it it was amazing Shelves: Annoyingly, not the edition I own, and I have neither the time nor the inclination to add it. The last book by Thomas before his death, and he's better than ever with betrayed soldiers and spies and Generals and political fund-raisers and murders and missing millions all wound up in a complex, intricate plot told with the usual energised cyncism. Here's an absolutely terrific round-up of Thomas' writing career: Apr 08, Stuart rated it really liked it Shelves: If only Ross Thomas had lived to complete a few more novels.

    Ah, Treachery represents a probably unintentional summa of his later writing, books that represent a changing of the guard. The protagonists largely eschew fatal violence and the novels usually end with characters fleeing for normal lives, in this case a rather hope If only Ross Thomas had lived to complete a few more novels.

    The protagonists largely eschew fatal violence and the novels usually end with characters fleeing for normal lives, in this case a rather hopeful normal two-bedroom apartment in Brentwood. Several cameos from Mr. Thomas' previous books crop up late in the narrative, and one can only wonder what Mr. Thomas would have made of the rest of the Nineties he certainly anticipated and despised Clintonite neoliberalism. I expect any books after this would have been happier and the main characters better adjusted.

    A shame that he only left us some thirty works of fiction. Re-reading Ross Thomas week ends with his last book which is set during the Clinton transition. Usually expert atmosphere for both LA and Washington as well as for how politics and money go together. The two bad guys are just a little too bad in covering up a problem that probably wouldn't be that big a problem; their violence is disproportionate.

    A nice curveball near the end though. Feb 14, Bobby Mathews rated it it was amazing. If Elmore Leonard had written political thrillers, they would have read an awful lot like Ross Thomas. And that's the highest praise I can give Thomas. Just a fantastic writer. Aug 22, Michael rated it it was amazing. An extraordinarily fun read. Book explans what happened Cia and army playing tricks thought the were immune from consequences good mystery with a trail for the money and the dirty deeds.

    Feb 28, Mike Harper rated it really liked it. One of Ross Thomas' best, and that's saying a lot. I was sorry to finish it because it was entertaining from start to finish. Feb 23, Martinw rated it really liked it Shelves: I just finished it and am not quite sure what it was all about, but I think, once I dwelled over it on my drive to work or home or so, I will have put it all together. I know that every action and reaction made sense immediately or soon after I read it, but all the pieces have not fallen into place yet.

    Nevertheless, they will, I'm sure. The book had the feel of an old noir-novel, with a little more politics, but mostly about tough guys, tough gals and the people they meet, all of th Very stylish. The book had the feel of an old noir-novel, with a little more politics, but mostly about tough guys, tough gals and the people they meet, all of them including their little or not so little quirks.

    If you like that, read it. May 06, Edward rated it it was amazing. Ross Thomas some say reads like a handbook for what's happening behind the scenes but didn't really want to know. He scrapes away the surface and his characters take on lives of their own. In this book he explores the politics of politics, and sure doesn't pull any punches with the levels of corruption, graft, and treachery. Some people I've read say that reading Ross Thomas is being introduced into the world of sociopaths-nice ones as well as bad ones-and maybe they were right. This one's too o Ross Thomas some say reads like a handbook for what's happening behind the scenes but didn't really want to know.

    This one's too on the spot with respect to how good writing is done Thomas was president of the Mystery Writers of America , how surprising interesting plots evolve, and what a good book looks like. Jan 06, Adam Rosenbaum rated it really liked it. As a long time fan of Thomas, it was a delight catching up with his stylized take on political corruption, this time with a dose of military shenanigans in El Salvador. Captain Edd "Twodes" is drummed out of the Army when he's fingered as a patsy in a government cover-up in a brutal, not so secret campaign in Central America. He's seen and done it all.

    Convoluted plot line covers a lot of ground, but it's all fun and in the hands of a master story teller, it works. How can you not like an organi As a long time fan of Thomas, it was a delight catching up with his stylized take on political corruption, this time with a dose of military shenanigans in El Salvador. Dialogue crackles, never panders. If you like this one, there are 20 others to enjoy. Aug 28, Ben Brackett rated it liked it.

    The males were wise cracking, the girls spunky and quirky. The characters were fun enough that they made up for a fairly lackluster reveal of all the threads of the mystery. Feb 14, Tom added it. Probably not his best, but still a winner. Jun 22, El rated it it was amazing.

    Ross Thomas's final novel before his death. His writing is crisp, irreverent, funny and provocative right to the end. Anyway, I'm a fan. Michael rated it it was ok Feb 15, Chris Parker rated it liked it Feb 17, Nick rated it liked it Oct 12, Karen rated it liked it Feb 13, Bill Wallo rated it really liked it Oct 16, Jeff Broady rated it it was amazing Mar 30, Jonathan Dunn rated it liked it Apr 26, Ted rated it liked it Mar 29, Delia Binder rated it really liked it Apr 07, Cyber rated it it was amazing Apr 20,