Saturday, August 5, 2017

The Timothy FilesThe Timothy Files by Lawrence Sanders
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

"They are both tight, private people, and they'd rather be sautéed in oil than say, 'I love you.' But, grudgingly, each acknowledges an attraction, a comfort with each other. It's a no-horseshit relationship with feelings masked by cold profanity, and intimacy shielded away."

Since I very much enjoyed Lawrence Sanders' McNally's Risk I have been hoping for an equally rewarding experience with his The Timothy Files (1987). Alas this novel is bland and unable to hook the reader with anything even remotely remarkable; in addition, the main and background characters are not interesting and psychologically implausible.

Timothy Cone is a "Wall Street dick", a financial investigator for a New York corporate intelligence company, used by principals in mergers, buyouts, and takeovers. The book is a set of three separate novellas, connected via Mr. Cone, his co-workers, and several recurring police characters. In the first story - the weakest one, I think - Mr. Cone investigates the subway station death of his office mate: he has no doubts that it was a murder connected to the financial investigation the victim was conducting.

The second story - the most interesting one - is about a modern fertility clinic that is on the verge of being bought out. Since Mr. Cone is offered a bribe to produce a positive evaluation of the clinic, he knows that something in the picture must be quite wrong. In addition he is contacted by an agent of the U.S. government who also suggests that Cone's evaluation should be positive. Alas the reader will find the government connection and the entire denouement implausible.

Finally the third story tells us about various members of one family - apparently siblings, cousins, etc. - involved in some kind of wrongdoing in several areas: investments, art sales, and import business. The third novella is rather light, airy, and kind of funny, although a murder is featured too.

The three plots are not completely uninteresting, though full of clichés and easy-to-predict turns. What dooms the book for me is the character of Timothy Cone, a Marine veteran from Vietnam, a lonely warrior in the world of financial crime, an uncompromising knight in white armor. He lives in a dilapidated loft with his mangy cat, often eats the cat's leftovers, and pretends not to care about anything but fighting crime. His boss, Samantha Whatley, is his "romantic interest" but their relationship (the epigraph describes it in the author's words) is to me psychologically implausible and the depictions of their frequent carnal couplings alternate between pretentiously overwrought and ludicrous:
"Their hard bodies are jangled with need, and sensation is not the answer. [...] they rend each other in a frantic effort to find relief. [...] they play their skin games, unable to yield to the heart's want, and settling for the satisfaction of greedy glands."

Two stars.

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