RogerBW's Blog

Chasing the Dollar, Ellie Ashe 02 August 2019

1987 action/mystery, first in the Miranda Vaughn series. Miranda worked hard to go to college and get a job in an investment bank… but it all fell apart, and she's spent eighteen months defending herself against fraud charges. Now she's been found not guilty… but that's not enough to get her life back.

This is a slightly schizophrenic book. On one level it's a light mystery: clearly some of the bad guys are the other people at the bank who perjured themselves to make Miranda look like the villain, but what were they really up to? Bringing that to light seems like the only way to get another job in banking, which is what Miranda's studied and trained for. So she looks over the illicitly-retained documents that made up the mountain of evidence against her, to try to find out what was really going on. That's good stuff, even if it's a bit short on actual financial detail. The fiancé who left her when the charges were brought has moved on, but seems to be acting at least a bit like a decent person. We're introduced to some other characters in the orbit of the lawyer who conducted her defence, and for whom she ends up working. And there's the FBI guy who led her out of the office in cuffs, who seems to be hanging around looking for more dirt…

But then Miranda rushes off to Macau to try to talk to one of the people who seems to have been involved, the FBI guy turns up, and the plot changes gear sharply into a screwball action-comedy, one of those stories where a pro and an amateur have to negotiate a variety of hazards (car chases, ambushes, traitors everywhere you look) while, naturally, falling for each other.

Which isn't at all a bad thing, but I kind of liked Researcher Miranda at least as much as Novice Action Heroine Miranda. This is much more of a lightweight adventure story than it is a mystery, so don't be fooled into thinking there'll be much in the way of deduction going on.

Now that I've finished complaining about what the book isn't, how about what it is? Well, it's fluff, but it's good fluff. The people come over as interestingly complex people rather than just stock heroes and villains, which is one of the things I'm always looking for. The financial stuff may be dealt with superficially, but it's at least not blatantly wrong.

Added to the "excessively light" queue.

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