Pain moves people to action… and you get more!
By Finn Bell
The plot of Pancake Money revolves around pain. Pain is what motivates behavior, Professor Ann Bowlby told her Forensic Psychology class. And one of her students takes her word to heart, as he says:
“If you hurt people badly enough for long enough, you can get them to do anything, absolutely anything you want. But there’s a price. Always. You also get more”.
Authored by Finn Bell, Pancake Money follows the multiple murder case assignments of two detectives. Partners Pollo Latu and Bobby Ress were initially assigned to investigate the death of a retired priest only to realize that it was just the first of a series of cases that they needed to resolve. More murders followed after the first case. And all the crimes took place in just a span of one week. In Dunedin, New Zealand.
The most significant twist of the story happened when Pollo died and Bobby had to partner with the most unlikely figure in town. A gangster leader! To make things more complicated, their collaboration started just when Bobby was advised to take a leave from work. Torn between his commitment to solving the crimes and the risk of being betrayed by his new partner, Bobby has to make a decision: to trust or not to trust the new guy. This is why Pancake Money is a paradox.
The book title is not literally about pancakes. Rather, it’s a contradiction in itself. It portrays life in the real world particularly of those who are called to protect the general citizenry. Bobby has to tread carefully between shielding his special child from the harsh reality of the outside world and protecting the community he vows to serve. He has to be gentle in presenting right and wrong to his daughter, Eva. But he also must take a firm stance in stopping the crime in his community.
Finn Bell is a creative and excellent author. He skillfully sustains the suspense element of this thriller right to the end. He keeps the story fast-paced, leaving the readers breathless and yet wanting for more. You will surely not want to stop turning page after page until you get to know the culprit of the crimes. You would even want to read more even beyond ‘The End’. Besides, Bell takes the effort of presenting the plot from a different angle. Pancake Money veers away from what a typical serial killer book usually follows. Instead, Bell adds some human interest and cultural touch to the story by giving us a glimpse of the Maori.
Another thing about Bell is that he’s keen on the technical side of his writings. I see how careful he is in the formatting of this book. He sees to it that Pancake Money is easy to follow, which is shown in his effort to put the time when each event took place. He also makes his sentences short. For these, I give Pancake Money a rating of 5 out of 5 stars. And I recommend this book to readers aged 18 years old and above. Even if you’re not a fan of suspense and crime stories, you will surely find this book worth reading. It gives you a general insight into police procedural and a bit of culture of a certain group of people.
I do not suggest Pancake Money to younger readers, though, because of its graphic content. Finn Bell writes detailed descriptions of the deaths and how they were carried out, which are not suitable for the young.
[This book review was first published in Online Book Club]