Mr. Erdman, the former president of the United California Bank of Basle who spent ten months in jail for his bank's ""deficiency"" of 35 million dollars, more than made up for it by applying his busy fingers to The Billion Dollar Sure Thing which was a helluva lot surer than we imagined. Now he's back with another manipulation of enormous magnitude -- namely opening up two major silver veins in a forgotten little Persian backwater called Shushan with a bluffer, brasher and livelier cast of characters than the first: a confidence man, Doc Smythe, and his assistants -- a probability theorist genius and a counterfeiter; a Sicilian prince with connections, like relatives; and an American banker buttoned all the way down from his collar even though his wife is certainly not. One of those last-of-the-big-spendthrift plots but ""Of such are American dreams made. Because the entire essence of America is the hope to first make money -- then make money with money -- then make lots of money with lots of money."" Another assured jackpot for an unnumbered account of readers.