The Eighth Commandment Summary
by Lawrence Sanders

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The Eighth Commandment

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Lanky, six-foot, two-inch Mary Lou “Dunk” Bateson is a native Iowan who has come to New York City to begin a career and a new life. After several years of apprenticeship with a coin expert, she begins working as an appraiser for Grandby & Sons, an old New York auction house.

Bateson is assigned to appraise and then receive delivery of the coin collection of wealthy businessman Archibald Havistock. This collection includes a “demaretion"--a very rare and valuable ancient Greek coin. During transport from Havistock’s home to Grandby’s, the demaretion disappears. Bateson is held responsible and is put on leave without pay.

Two men, Al Georgio, a police detective, and Jack Smack, an insurance detective, enter Bateson’s life, romantically and professionally, as she, too, searches for the thief. What begins as an attempt to clear her own name turns into a full-fledged investigation, with Bateson following her own leads in competition with the two detectives.

She discovers that the “respectable” and wealthy Havistock family includes a sleazy nephew, a suicidal kleptomaniac daughter, a nymphomaniacal daughter-in-law, and a daughter and son-in-law who indulge in pornographic film-making. Bateson’s case and her relationships with the two detectives both lead to unexpected conclusions.

Lawrence Sanders, author of the DEADLY SIN series, has a special talent for delivering sex and violence in abundance but never to the point of saturation. His wry humor is evident throughout the book as he manages to create outrageous yet believable characters. As usual, he propels the reader into another world--in this case, the world of numismatists--in an entertaining fashion. As escapist fare for a wide audience, this is first-rate.