RARA-AVIS: _Condominium_

William Denton (buff@pobox.com)
Fri, 29 Oct 1999 12:03:54 -0400 (EDT)

Has anyone else here read John D. MacDonald's big Arthur-Hailey-style book, _Condominium_? I've seen it around for years but always avoided it because I thought it would be awful. A few weeks ago I found a copy for a dollar, and figured what the hell, if it's by JDM it must be fairly good, so I bought it.

It's the story of the people who build, own or live in a new condo on the Florida shoreline. Lots of characters are introduced, many are weak or criminal or stupid, some are the standard JDM grizzled, muscular 40ish engineer types. It turns out the condo was built very poorly and a hurricane could knock it down--then a hurricane comes.

It's not hardboiled, but something about the legal and business shenanigans at the start reminded me of the corruption we often see in hardboiled books. Here, though, we get it from the other side: we see the businessmen passing bribes, shaving costs and socking away money for when it all comes down. MacDonald goes into lots of detail about what they do. Instead of the hero bursting into the room full of old men and talking fast as he outlines what they did and why the murders followed, we get step-by-step instructions on how to pull real estate and development scams (after which no murders come, because the hurricane kills off most people).

I finished the book yesterday morning, and last night I read Stark/Westlake's _The Man with the Getaway Face_. Big difference!


William Denton : Toronto, Canada : http://www.miskatonic.org/ : Caveat lector.

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