Max Allan Collins
Two for the Money
Hard Case Crime, 2004
Initially, two novels Bait Money and Blood Money, which make up this book, were published separately, but here on the author's intention they are made in one novel, as if divided into two parts.
Nolan, a professional burglar, is not a youth no more. The thieves do not retire, Nolan's peace is not expected, as well. After killing a mobster’s brother 16 years ago and taking the money that did not belong to him, Nolan made a run, forced to retrain from club manager to a robber who with a group of professionals robbing banks, armored trucks and other institutions, suffering from an overabundance of money. Nolan robbed and robbed, saving money until one day he was recognized by the mobster’s friends and got a couple of bullets in the side. Hardly recovered from his injuries, Nolan now has to act: all that he had saved now not available and he has to somehow put up with the mobster and try to get money for retirement.
Charlie, mobster from the top of the Chicago organization, has forgiven Nolan for his brother's death, but never forgave the humiliation. Charlie gives Nolan a task: Nolan has to pay Charlie 100,000 dollars, then they will be even. Nolan had to go to the next robbery, and not with the professionals but with amateurs, with the youngsters, among them is Jon, nephew of the former robber and collector of comic books.
«Only it was Charlie's laugh: if Nolan fucked up, and died, or ended in stir, Charlie would just love it; and if Nolan did pull this off, Charlie would be a hundred grand ahead and would have saved face with the Family. Nolan would've appreciated the joke, but for the dull ache in his side from Charlie's last attempt to kill him».
Two for the Money is a pleasure to read for someone who is familiar with Richard Stark's Parker novels. Collins himself admits that his books about Nolan are such voluntary rewriting of Stark’s novels, Parker rip-offs. Collins’ novels read at first only to find borrowing from Stark. Here is a description similar to the description of this of Stark’s book, and this character as if straight from Stark. Collins borrows plot lines, motivations, descriptions. But by the beginning of the second book, Blood Money, we begin to notice not the similarities but differences. Nolan is much older that Parker and from time to time think about his retirment. Parker is a thief who can not be not a thief. Nolan is a thief not by calling, who dreams of his own club and a quiet life. And even more so Parker would never have allowed himself to become friends with a greenhorn, also a collector of comic books (in Jon, it seems, Collins expressed his passion for comic books).
In the second book Collins is gradually released from the Parker complex, and began to write more relaxed, less looking at the venerable teacher. Collins’ novels, of course, is not on par with Stark’s novels, they are secondary, but it's good entertainment stories, with lively dialogue (here, by the way, the dialogues are much more natural than in Quarry).