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Picks and Pans Review: The Timothy Files

updated 07/13/1987 at 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 07/13/1987 01:00AM

by Lawrence Sanders

Sanders, author of The Anderson Tapes, The Fourth Deadly Sin and more than a dozen other best-selling mysteries, has learned that detective stories have a natural length; padding one out to the dimensions of a novel may spoil it. So the hero of this book, private detective Timothy Cone, has three separate cases to handle. A Vietnam veteran, he works for a Wall Street firm that investigates corporations. Often his company is hired before a merger to make certain that the buyer is getting his money's worth. Cone is described as an "essentially puritan man" who "instinctively mistrusts cheerful people," and he is not invited to office Christmas parties. He lives with a beat-up tomcat in a shabby loft in Lower Manhattan and is having an affair with his boss, a female manager who is just as tough as he is. Their terms of endearment for each other are obscene. This is hardly a great romance, just great sex. In the first story a fellow detective dies under a subway train, and everyone suspects he was pushed. He had been investigating a company that had a curious—and strictly illegal—way with large amounts of cash. Cone's second case concerns a clinic devoted to helping women become pregnant. Why is a shady international money man so determined to get hold of this lab? Why did one of its employees commit suicide, and why was another brutally murdered? In the third story a wealthy old lady hires Cone to investigate a company that is paying its investors 30 percent interest. There are no real surprises in any of these stories, but they are nonetheless satisfying reads for those who like their detective fiction violent and neat. (Putnam's, $18.95)

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