Saturday, May 16, 2009

'Easy Money' Proves to be Anything But

Review: EASY MONEY (St. Martin's Paperbacks 2000)
Author, Jenny Siler

EASY MONEY is what the main character of this book is looking to make, but her assignment as courier this time is anything but easy. Allie Kerry (the heroine of our story) normally runs various deliveries for her shady friend, Joey, a former lover--she got involved with this whole business through her dad and his friend, Cyrus (nothing like keeping business in the family).

Anyway, a simple assignment (easy money, as she frequently repeats, as if trying to convince herself) to pick up a package goes all wrong--Al's contact (she goes by "Al," too) ends up dead in a seedy bar and she's got this disc--something that others seem willing to kill for. So she takes off, looking to find out what it is she's got.

What follows is a cross-country journey from Seattle to the Florida Keys (Allie's home)--one packed with suspense, more dead bodies and some fascinating characters. Before you know it, Al's been set up for the murders. Now she has both thugs and cops to contend with.

So Allie keeps running, crossing the ever-changing landscape which gets richly described (perhaps a bit too rich at times), along with thoughts of her past and trying to figure out just what the hell's going on.

But (as the Amazon review put it) "fancy-pants prose aside," this book is highly readable. Al's such a strong, unconventional character. She totes enough guns to overload a metal detector (no less than three). And she ain't afraid to use those babies.

The story is told in first person, present tense, which bothered me until I realized it made it much easier to figure out which parts were about the past versus the present. Because Jenny Siler likes to play with narrative that way--one of her endearing traits as a writer (to me).

Plus there was this one question that occurred to me after I'd finished the book. It seemed like a plot hole--one I'd missed because I was so caught up in Allie's desperate situation and the huge climactic ending, so suspenseful I couldn't read through it fast enough. But to say what that plot hole is would be telling, right?

So, all I can say is, read the book for yourself. Does it leave you wondering--what about . . . ? About something I can't tell you.

Besides, as I always say, these stories are really about the ride, the journey. And when Raymond Chandler was asked who killed the chauffeur in The Big Sleep during the film's production, he said he didn't know. And I say the answer is, "Who cares?"

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