cover image The Choice of Eddie Franks

The Choice of Eddie Franks

Brian Freemantle. St. Martin's Press, $0 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-312-93014-1

The author of The Fix and Dirty White has written a modern morality tale that is less an action-filled, organized crime novel than it is a character study in the mold of George V. Higgins, although the writing is not quite up to Higgins's caliber. Eddie Franks, builder of a successful resort and cruise chain, is approached by his brother-in-law, Nicky Scargo, who is also his childhood rival, with a proposal to buildhotel-casinos in Bermuda and the Bahamas with private investment funds. Franks agrees and, trusting Scargo, fails to investigate his new partners until he is confronted by FBI agents, who inform him that the backers are mobsters laundering money through the hotels. Trapped by a series of blunders and set-ups, Franks must cooperate with the investigation or face certain conviction. When Scargo is murdered, Franks faces a dilemma that threatens his marriage, family and business empire. Although adroitly plotted with a neat twist at the end, the novel's sketchy characterizations and lackluster dialogue render it ultimately unsatisfying. (May 18)