Wednesday 20 March 2024



When Charley Varrick and his gang hit the Tres Cruces bank, they make two serious mistakes.

They got trigger-happy and they didn't realise whose money they were taking.

And when Damon Murray of the FBI arrived to take charge of the investigation, he began to wonder why a smalltown bank should be carrying so much money.

Then the Mafia stepped in  - to cover up their insidious connections with the bank. And to get their money back.

Loved it. I really enjoy reading late 60s/early 70s crime fiction paperbacks. Love the (often politically incorrect) covers, the smell and the feel of the pages, the wonder at whether many other copies of the book survive 50 plus years on (this one nearly didn't!) and also speculating on how many times this one has been thumbed and had its pages turned. 

Here we have a multiple POV look at the execution of a bank robbery and its aftermath. ie - the escape and subsequent investigation by various law enforcement agencies and the rightful owners - the mob - of the stolen cash. 

Really enjoyable. 

I liked the writing, and the characters - from the rookie cop with his insecurities and mother issues, to the FBI man who wasn't depicted as an a-hole and actually worked well with the local lawmen, to the main villain himself - Charley Varrick, and the mob lawyer trying to keep a lid on the situation for his bosses. 

Conflict, tension, action, intelligence and cunning, secrets, mistrust, ambition, control, romance - all figure. A bit like the everyday dramas normal people face at home and at work. Just this time with guns and criminals colliding with authority. 

Cracking story, decent pace, perfect length, satisfying ending.

John Reese is an author I know little about. I think I discovered this book after reading Brian Garfield's Hopscotch and subsequently watching the film with Walter Matthau and Glenda Jackson. That Matthau film led me to another of his called Charley Varrick, which The Looters was filmed as. Obsessed as I am, I tracked down a copy of the film to watch sometime, plus another book by John Reese - Pity Us All. I'm looking forward to both. Reese wrote about 50 books in total, mainly Westerns. 

4 stars from 5

Published - 1968

Read - February, 2024

Page count - 208

Source - purchased copy

Format - paperback