FINDERS KEEPERS: The Story of a Man Who Found $1 Million

Mark Bowden, Author . Atlantic Monthly $24 (208p) ISBN 978-0-87113-859-0

Bowden follows two bestsellers (Black Hawk Down; Killing Pablo) with a tragicomic tale based on a series of articles he wrote for the Philadelphia Inquirer, where he was a reporter for two decades. Joey Coyle, at 28, is down and out, amiable but aimless, an unemployed longshoreman from South Philly who, despite his cheerful exterior, has a gnawing sense of inadequacy that he masks with methamphetamine. In February 1981, Joey has a spectacularly lucky—or spectacularly unlucky, as Bowden shows with the tale's unfolding—day: driving with a couple of guys from the neighborhood, he finds two sacks containing $1.2 million in cash. Despite major media attention on the money's disappearance from an armored car, Coyle decides to keep it. What ensues is partly a police procedural (will the cops find Joey?), but the drama, as Bowden relates the story, lies mainly in Coyle's rapid, drug-mediated deterioration into panic and paranoia as he attempts to launder and stash the money. Bowden's narrative is succinct and fast-moving, spare but complete, and ends in a farcical trial, in which Coyle tries an insanity defense, followed by Hollywood's muddled attempt to turn the story into a feel-good movie starring John Cusack. The tale has a sad conclusion, as Coyle's attempt to live up to his new role as a kind of urban hero fails. This is a smaller tale than Bowden's earlier ones, but a satisfying one, smartly told. (Oct.)

Forecast:As Bowden writes, who doesn't dream of finding $1 million? This should have wide appeal, aided by Bowden's reputation.

Reviewed on: 08/05/2002
Release date: 10/01/2002
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