ANY FOUR WOMEN COULD ROB THE BANK OF ITALY by Ann Cornelisen
Kirkus Star

ANY FOUR WOMEN COULD ROB THE BANK OF ITALY

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Startling but delightful: a frolicsome departure from Cornelisen's dark and majestic studies of peasant communities in southern Italy, with a mail-train heist caper getting playfully satiric treatment. Noting that, as women, they were airily waved through a manhunt roadblock, writer Eleanor (""El"") Kendall and TV-director Lacey Wright agree that women could easily pillage the Bank of Italy and walk off whistling. So four more co-conspirators soon slope in for the fun: that sexy bona fide celebrity, feminist Hermione Hendricks, author of thundering tomes like ""Put That in Your Jock Strap and. . .""; political analyst Kate, who needs money; journalist-snoop Martha Gelder; and Caroline, an Englishwoman married to ""satisfyingly eccentric"" Conte Giordano Maffeit, who puzzles the Tuscan junction town of San Felice with her tenaciously pursued causes (anti-corruption, anti-hunting). The robbery itself, unwittingly observed by El's friend/suitor/lawyer Peter, is a little miracle of sprightly competence. Accomplished on the same morning as a giant high-society engagement party, the robbery ""creates an overload"" of thrilling rumor and speculation in the media. But, while gloomy police Captain Nardo and splendidly accoutered Brigadier Cirillo of the Second Flying Squad (there was no first) plod on and tear about respectively, the robbets are having some internal disagreements. Caroline's conscience is atwitter because the loot contained some pension money; she refuses to transport the money to Switzerland as promised unless that money is returned--another tricky project, but carried off. Then Martha shows signs of spilling the beans--an eventuality confronted in song in the full blast of a party via Gilbert and Sullivan. (""I've got a little list"" meanly hints Martha.) So it's all an intricate muddle--with the robbers alternately exasperated and amused, the merriment of parties, the antics of a veritable Etna of an automobile and a brobdingnagian dog. . . plus a spirited windup, featuring an arm.waving conference of conspirators on a bald mountain. Lifted above mere caper giddiness by Anglo/American repartee and jolly sideswipes at Italian (masculine) institutions: classy, sophisticated fun.

Pub Date: Feb. 13th, 1983
Publisher: Holt, Rinehart & Winston