Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Book Review: Tiffany Thayer, Five Million in Cash (1932)

First, a note about how I came to read this book: I saw a reference to Tiffany Thayer as an early hardboiled writer, and, knowing of Thayer only as the founder of the Fortean Society, I was curious to read one of his hardboiled books. Trolling around the internet, however, I couldn't find anything that I trusted as an authoritative list of his work, and I ended up in Stanford's Copyright Renewal Database. There I found, among the novels copyrighted by Thayer, Five Million in Cash, which the database indicated had been published under the pseudonym of O. B. King. This seemed promising, and it was cool to discover, upon further research, that no one (prior to this!) seems to have connected Thayer to this novel. So you heard it here first, folks.

And now about the book: Ben Flinders, an ordinary guy who works as a car painter in New York City, gets out of bed one morning and finds himself standing ankle-deep in money. He has no idea where the money came from, but he decides that he will keep it. After this, he proves to be somewhat skillful and more than somewhat lucky as he negotiates life on the run from two warring mob bosses. Published in 1932, Five Million in Cash is a clear forerunner to the Everyman noir that became a Gold Medal staple in the 1950s, but with one crucial difference: Though the novel features numerous shoot-outs and much bloodshed, its voice is so breezy that it is impossible to imagine that Ben is ever in any real danger. Lightweight, but enjoyable. Grade: B


  1. Completely different genre, but you should check out Thayer's take on The Three Musketeers. Wildly funny, and one of my dad's favorite books.

  2. Nice! From what little I know, Thayer seems to have been quite the interesting and versatile dude.