The Timothy Files

THE TIMOTHY FILES is a good and bad news for fans of prolific suspense novelist Lawrence Sanders. The good news is Timothy Cone. Despite the cliches--he is a hard-drinking loner and a Vietnam veteran--Timothy is a well-drawn and appealing character. An investigator for Haldering and Company, specialists in corporate intelligence, Timothy has the hard-boiled detective’s traditional virtues. He is a dogged truth seeker, has a firm sense of justice, and is compassionate on occasion. In addition, Timothy lives in a dilapidated but appealing loft on lower Broadway, keeps a charmingly ragged cat, and is apparently monogamous.

Timothy enjoys an effective supporting cast of coworkers and policemen, including Samantha Whatley, Timothy’s no-nonsense superior. Also effective is the book’s prose. Telling his story in the third person, Sanders makes clever use of the present tense to propel the reader through the book at a rapid pace.

The bad news is that THE TIMOTHY FILES has a weak plot. Indeed, the book really contains three nearly unrelated short novels. Each holds the reader’s attention, but none is satisfactorily resolved. The reader knows almost from the outset who the villains are. Thus, rather than “who done it?” the real mystery is “what are they doing and why?” The answers are unconvincing. Indicative of this is the fact that the book’s four murders become progressively more senseless, and the last is never really explained at all.

The book also fails to exploit properly its setting--the enormous commotion and energy of Wall Street remains uncaptured. Nor does Sanders penetrate the innards of corporate power or business-related crimes; some time spent studying the well-publicized trading scandals might have helped in this regard.

In sum, this is a suspenseful book which is enjoyable as long as it is not taken too seriously.