A Cool Breeze on the Underground - Don Winslow The Kitteridge Bank, owned by a small Rhode Island family, has thrived over the years, in part, thanks to a small, off the books, department known as Friends of the Family. It specializes in helping out the bank's richer customers by providing services that they would like hidden. Joe Graham, one of their detectives "adopted" Neal, a street urchin, taught him some of the less savory aspects of the business, but also sent him to college and grad school where he now wants nothing better than to teach 18th century English Lit. Unfortunately, a vice-president wanna-be, needs Neal to find their daughter before the Democratic National Convention just a few weeks down the road so they can control the spin on their daughter's decadent and runaway life and it seems they believe Neal is the only one with the street and upper crust smarts to do the job.

There is some marvelous writing and imagery, much of it tongue-in-cheek. I loved the scene when Neal is picked up by the African safari guide who drives like a maniac, has only been in 2 or three life-threatening accidents, and who tailgates in a way that resembles "sodomizing a dairy truck." He also has hundreds of first editions including a very special annotated book by Smollett, the subject of Neal's thesis. Then Winslow manages to ruminate on all things London while Neal tries to find the girl by sitting on a park bench and traveling the subways. Never having been to London, I have no idea if he is spot on, but I suspect as much. Neal has just nine weeks to find the girl and he is not to bring her back early or later than August 1st. And his graduate school subsidy hangs in the balance.

Soon, it's con on con. Mix in the reportedly non-existant Smollett first edition Pickle, some delightfully seventies punk characters, a Chinese gang, and a bank that provides extra services to its clients and you have a marvelous romp. You'll love it.