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Mystery Monday Review – Going for the Gold

Going for the Gold by Emma Lathen

Review by Matt B. (BuffaloSavage)

This 1981 mystery is set at the same Lake Placid Olympics where the US men’s hockey team beat the USSR in the Miracle on Ice. Lathen – that is, the writing team of economist Mary Jane Latsis and attorney Martha Henissart – probably attended those Winter Games since they vividly capture the panopoly and excitement.

Being canny businesswomen, they also knew they were seeing the world change: the process in which mass media and intense public interest were turning sports into the economic and cultural behemoth that it is today. On a more relatable basis, the authors prove their State of New York street cred by realistically describing a massive blizzard. The storm also serves the plot because it paralyzes daily life for a couple of days, thus throwing off the time-table of the fiendish sniper who took down a French downhill skier in mid-flight.

Also consistent with genuine human behavior, Lathen has a Danish female skier, falsely accused of taking drugs, pressured by two men who think they know what is better for her than she knows herself. Protesting the false accusation of doping, Swiss athletes kidnap the narrow-minded president of the IOC and imprison him in a funicular hanging half-way up the mountainside. Another subplot involves a scandal in procurement thievery for the purpose of extracting kickbacks.

The series hero, John Putnam Thatcher, is a senior vice-president at the Sloan Guaranty Trust, the third largest bank in the world. Thatcher in fact runs the Sloan because the muddle-headed president, Bradford Withers, is a social butterfly who spends little time at the bank, much to the relief of his senior executives. Thatcher’s main task is dealing with a flood of counterfeit Eurochecks which might cost the Trust a half-million dollars. He is assisted by the touchy and testy stickler for detail Everett Gabler, who is always a superbly drawn character.




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