THE WRONG KIND OF MONEY by Stephen Birmingham


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 Another mesh of family messes set firmly in Birmingham's (Carriage Trade, 1993, etc.) undisputed fief--the glitter of wealth and acidulous class conflict among an insulated enclave of Jewish Manhattanites, either of the self-proclaimed ``right sort,'' or those who moved on up despite an inelegant background. Birmingham's crowd is all here: the steely matriarch, sons both hale and hopeless, and women wholesome, witchy, or just plain lost. There's also mystery, scandals (with past flashbacks), mean schemes, shouts and whispers. Hannah Liebling (nÇe Sachs) in her mighty eighties, has withheld from hardworking son Noah the CEO- ship of the great Ingraham liquor empire. The business had been founded by her late husband Jules, a tough Canadian ex-bartender, who during Prohibition worked easily with Capone et al. and gave Joe Kennedy a leg up. Hannah's other son, Cyril, had been long ago discarded by Jules, and much married daughter Ruth is into interchangeable boy toys. Meantime, Noah's wife Carol, in their monstrous luxury building, has a full plate. There's her crazy hysteric-religious mother in Kansas; negotiation on behalf of the Metropolitan Museum for a porcelain collection belonging to a descendent of the man who had tried to bar Jules from a ``restricted'' building years before; attempts to fend off Hannah's many plots to keep Noah under her thumb; and, worst, the full-blown seduction of Noah by his daughter Anne's best friend. (All this while a trendy novelist, who stirs the scrawny bods of the Ladies who Lunch, creeps on his nasty rounds.) Small wonder, then, that so much mischief eventually leads to murder, and the obligatory stunning denouement. Dark doings in Manhattan castles, done with juicy excess: Titillating pop that reads like a dream.

Pub Date: Aug. 18th, 1997
ISBN: 0-525-94331-5
Page count: 416pp
Publisher: Dutton
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1st, 1997