SHORT MONEY by Pete Hautman


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 A prequel to Drawing Dead (1993) that explains how ex-cop Joe Crow met Narcotics Anonymous stalwart Laura Debrowski and how he got his pink Jaguar, though not how he managed to stay alive long enough to star in the earlier novel. Fat, confused Shawn Murphy, ten, tries to calm down his father George, who catches him masturbating, by telling him that George's client Dr. Nelson Bellweather told him all about it; soon afterward, Shawn casually shoots a legendary moose in George's Minnesota big-game ranch and then decides to take some time away from home. Shawn's mischief would be all in the family if (1) his family didn't include his violent uncle Ricky, and (2) he didn't decide to run off to Dr. Bellweather's. Convinced that Bellweather's a pervert who's kidnapped his boy, George presses Joe, now acting as Bellweather's unwilling bodyguard, to finger his employer for trigger-happy Ricky. Boy, does he press him, though threatening to kill Joe's killable brother-in-law David Getter, Esq., may not be the most efficient way. Meanwhile, Bellweather is busy with his own schemes--maybe he'll sneak past matriarch Amanda Murphy and rob the family till; maybe he'll turn into a real kidnapper--while assorted bottom-feeders like Joe's estranged wife Melinda, his old boss Big River police chief Orlan Johnson, and colorless investment counselor Steve Anderson work on their own angles. The competition for meanest character is laughably intense: Just when you think you've seen the scuzziest possible entrant, somebody farther down the food chain manages an even more transparently wicked twist. Not as funny or as light on its feet as Joe's manic debut, but still as relaxing as two weeks in a country-club prison.

Pub Date: May 1st, 1995
ISBN: 0-684-80211-2
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1st, 1995


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