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Mystery Monday – Florentine Finish


Florentine Finish by Cornelius Hirschberg


Review by Matt B. (BuffaloSavage)

Mystery writers who have used their own personal or professional experience include Erle Stanley Gardner (lawyering), P.D. James (health care administration), Sarah Paretsky (insurance) and writing as ā€œEmma Lathen,ā€ Mary Jane Latsis (banking and law) and Martha Henissart (economics and finance).

Three years after publishing his autobiography, The Priceless Gift, Cornelius Hirschberg put his experience as a jewelry salesman to work in a crime novel, Florentine Finish. It is a fast-paced adventure of murder in the black market jewelry business. The story is about Saul Handy, an ex-police officer who sells jewelry. As the result of a private deal, he finds himself in the midst of three murders connected to the jewelry black market. He is being framed for the murders, so he decides to solve them himself.

The violence in Florentine Finish is contrived at times, according to Elmer Pry of Twentieth-Century Crime and Mystery Writers. For example, Handy has a bloody body hanging out of his back seat as he drives for blocks. Finally, a police officer stops him and asks, “Who’s your friend?” Overall, though, Pry was impressed with this novel. He wrote, “[Hirschberg’s] use of the commercial setting is as intriguing, as informed and informing, and as central to his story as Wall Street’s banking milieu is to any of Emma Lathen’s Judge Thatcher stories, although Hirschberg’s style is closer to the hard-boiled mode, with its colloquial language, violence, and isolated and cynical, but finally somehow sentimental, hero.”

This mystery won the Edgar Award for Best First Novel in 1964. Hirschberg never wrote another book.






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