Picks and Pans Review: Black Money

updated 06/06/1994 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 06/06/1994 AT 01:00 AM EDT

by Michael Thomas

The most interesting character in Thomas's latest thriller is money: the hundreds of millions from the drug trade and bond and stock scams that is moved around the globe in megabytes by digital highwaymen.

The story starts with a murder. When Clarence Greaves, an investigator for the Resolution Trust Corporation—the government agency charged with cleaning up the $500 billon savings-and-loan mess—stumbles on a small tax-evasion scheme at a failed California bank, he dies. Greaves, it seems, had discovered a chink in the well-armored money-laundering machinery of the Colombian drug cartel. The murder attracts Lee Boynton, reporter for—and patroness of—Capitol Steps, a small investigative paper. She teams up with Thurlowe Coole, a computer crusader who ferrets out electronic high jinks for stratospheric fees. When not rapturously pawing each other, this twosome battles the spreadsheet banditos in a series of cliff-hangers that stretches from Scotland lo Washington.

Along the way the author, an ex-investment banker, stops for colorful lectures on the morass of the '80's free-for-all market economy. This is a riveting and instructive novel. (Crown, $22)

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