cover image WALKING MONEY


James O. Born, Author . Putnam $23.95 (262p) ISBN 978-0-399-15

Putting 17 years of service with various law enforcement agencies to excellent use, Born delivers a riveting, serpentine tale of crooked cops, police politics and a $1.5-million bag of money juggled from one pair of dishonest hands to another. Duplicitous Rev. Alvin Watson and his ex-con partner, Cole Hodges, have been skimming money from Miami's Committee for Community Relief, and everyone—Hodges, a bank manager and even smarmy, rotund FBI task force officer Tom Dooley—has got his eyes on the loot. With a riot for cover, all three aim for it, but it's Dooley who walks away victorious. Then hero Bill Tasker, a Florida state cop with (surprise!) a checkered past but an honest heart, gets framed for the crime, after Dooley stashes a loot-laden satchel inside Tasker's backyard grill and then alerts vulturous media outlets. Tasker gets both the theft and a murder pinned on him while the mother lode is shuffled a few more times, ending up in Dooley's hands once again. Swirling suspicion and startling plot twists keep readers' heads spinning as Born's direct, no-nonsense prose (complete with plenty of off-color remarks) propel this novel to its bullet-ridden conclusion. This is a terrific debut. Agent, Peter Rubie . (July)

Forecast: Born's been there, and it shows. This should be a hit with fans of hard-boiled crime fiction.