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Off-the-wall Street

January 28, 1990

My compliments on your review of "Rascal Money" (too bad the book didn't quite come up to snuff), but what I'm really writing about is the first part of John Rothchild's review, where he wonders that there are so few novels about Wall Street. True, there aren't many, but you left out some of the best books of all about that bastion of capitalism--the mystery novels of Emma Lathen.*

Her (their) sleuth is John Putnam Thatcher, senior V.P. of the Sloan Guaranty Trust, "third largest bank in the work." All the books involve a particular business or profession (and murder, of course), and many of them involve the intricacies of the New York Stock Exchange, the commodities market (cocoa futures), investment banking and brokerage houses. The authors evidently steep themselves in a particular line of work and then set their mysteries in that milieu.

My favorite is "Death Shall Overcome" (1966), about the election of the first black to a seat on the NYSE: "Sweet and Low," about the cocoa exchange; "Murder Against the Grain," involving Wall Street and the U.S.S.R. . . . The books are marvelously witty.

Perhaps you didn't mention them in your review because they are mysteries, not "serious" novels, Pfui, as Nero Wolfe would say. They are sophisticated, entertaining books, and they are certainly about Wall Street! If you haven't read any of them, I'm sure you'd enjoy them

* Emma Lathen is the pen name of two ladies of exceptional talent, one a lawyer and the other an economist.

JAN. W. LEEMHORST

WEST HOLLYWOOD

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