FOREIGN EXCHANGE by Larry Beinhart


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 Edgar-winner Beinhart's third suspenser about p.i. Cassella of Brooklyn and just as superbly witty as You Get What You Pay For (1988) and No One Rides For Free (1985). Tony Cassella has spent the past six years on the lam from the IRS and running the only coin-operated laundromat in a high-toned Austrian ski resort. It's a phony charge, but even so he owes the IRS a quarter million because of compound interest. Now the CIA threatens to expose Tony's false identity papers to the Austrians--he's hiding behind a passport that says he's an Irish priest, and he does wear a dickey and a priestly collar although his French girlfriend Marie is pregnant. The novel is sketched on money and the European exchange rates, although the McGuffin is a lost computer disc that holds the code for a new American fighter jet that the Germans and Japanese want as desperately as the CIA does. If Tony can recover the disc, the CIA will clear him with the IRS--or will it? Is garrulous old rogue Harry Lime (a Sidney Greenstreet type Tony meets in Vienna) really with the CIA? Is likable, Berkeley-educated ``Mike'' Hayakawa really with Musashi Aerospace of Japan? Tony's search takes him through a half dozen East bloc countries with Marie, their baby daughter, his mother, and Marie's lawgiving French mother all packed into his small car. The novel's great humor lies in Beinhart's golden ear for all variety of American, European, Japanese, and Australian dialects, accents that he captures with headspinning accuracy. Typical thumbnail of a Czech agent: ``He said everything with great intensity and a lot of hair. He had the sort of beard that collects crumbs and drama.'' Knockout fun, top-drawer plotting. This'll burn away the night.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1991
ISBN: 0-517-57726-7
Page count: 240pp
Publisher: Harmony
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1st, 1991


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