Big Money by Jack Getze

(Austin Carr, #2)

In this jaunty follow-up to Big Numbers, a scruffy stockbroker returns to tangle with mobsters, women and his own big mouth. The good news, as the story opens, is that the hero is in the company of a gorgeous naked lady. The bad news is that she's pointing a shotgun at him. It's a typical predicament for Austin Carr, a semi-shady New Jersey financial professional temporarily in charge of Shore Securities while his boss is on vacation.

But market fluctuations are the least of Carr's worries. He's being extorted into opening a money-laundering account for local crime boss Bluefish; an auditor who was investigating his company has turned up murdered; a fetching state police captain figures he's the key to her organized-crime probe; and his boss's mother has been picked up for fixing her church bingo game.

I was pleased to re-read and re-visit this after several years, having remembered it fondly from the first read years ago.

Carr is a character you love to love. Clumsy-mouthed, endearing but all male and honest about it, his witty sarcasm incites nearly constant chuckles as the poor sap finds himself in bizarre messes that only further complicate his already haphazard-laden life. Understanding Carr made it easier to feel the frantic tension - and there was loads of it - that Getze kept throwing at the protagonist. I dig his feelings and thoughts toward his kids, his way of twisting things around at the end of the story, and his general life outlook.

Being in the villains head sometimes bounced from disturbing to intriguing, for 'the Creeper' was an especially fascinating villain. The ending with him was a suitable scene, but I do kind of wonder what would have happened if the deal that was made with him played out. Probably wouldn't have lasted long!

Mama Bones was a riot and a mystery of her own. And, after loving Luis from the original book, I enjoyed seeing more of him here, where he meets life changes of his own.

Typically books (and films) feel the urge to introduce some sort of love story, almost as if it's a required afterthought, but I'm pleased to have been left on the tips of my toes as to whether that would have happened here or not. There were plenty of surprises encountered when it came to characters, twists I never anticipated coming. The ultimate villain was one I didn't suspect, and one of the accomplices? Whoah. Somehow Getze made this all a big mystery without the reader necessarily knowing it's supposed to be such a mystery. With my guard down, I didn't look for as many clues as I should have.

For a thriller, pacing was continously rife with uh-oh moments that held no easy resolution in sight. Just when I was getting near what turned out to be either the climax or resolution of a certain story-line, something jumped up and struck me, introducing a whole new story arc I never saw coming. Who I thought would be the main villain, didn't always turn out to be. This is a "thinking" book in which many points and questions are constantly afloat in the brain. Excellent writing techniques led me places I had no idea I'd be visiting, written in ways that flowed smoothly and made the finish line appear quickly.

With such a marriage of characterization and hefty plot lines that head out in so many bizarre directions, this book was an easy read to finish. A rich mystery it is, heavy with in-depth layers that take awhile to uncover and are nearly impossible to guess yourself. Twists and surprises that always left me wide eyed. Sarcastic one-liners and bizarre characters (Creeper) which left me giggling. The ending was a polished gem, finalizing the journey with extreme oomph that made it even more worthwhile. Big Money in no way short-changes the reader as it doles out fun times that keep coming.