We crime writers love to cast bankers as our villains. They’ve got money, so who’s going to have any sympathy for them? And they make us grovel when we go in for a car loan.

I cast a banker as my villain in my thumb novel, Iced, last year. I had him running an investment scam.

Fellow crime writer Mike Manno – we’re both published by Five Star – climbed aboard the anti-banker bus this year with his novel End of the Line.

My banker pops up from time to time and, in the final chapter, I have him arrested at a symphony concert in the rotunda of the state capitol.

Mike shows his banker no mercy. The man’s an embezzler. Mike kills him off before page 1. A city bus driver find the banker, Rhett Butler – I kid you not on the name – dead on his bus. That, too, happens before page 1.

So it’s up to Mike’s state police detective, Jerome “Stan” Stankowski, to solve the crime with deputy state attorney general Parker Noble looking over his shoulder.

Well, no, Noble isn’t looking over Stankowski’s shoulder. He leads the investigation in the way that Nero Wolfe does in Rex Stout’s mysteries. Quirky Parker Noble is the thinking man, and skirt-chasing Stankowski does the leg work, just as Wolfe’s skirt-chasing associate, Archie Goodwin, does the leg work for him.

End of the Line is not a book to be taken seriously, not after you meet some of the curious characters and critters who inhabit it – the bus driver, Sherman “The Wheel” Wheeler; a mafia type named Johnny Capo; Buffy, a girl reporter and Stankowski’s frequent date; and Parker Noble’s dog, Buckwheat Bob, a basset hound who gets whatever high he gets listening to talk radio. This is pulp fiction intended to be enjoyed like movie popcorn. You just can’t put it down until you get to the bottom of the box.

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