Outskirts Press (2008)
Reviewed by for Reader Views (12/08)
I was very excited to read "The Money Belt" because it is set in my hometown of Marquette, Michigan even though the description of the story sounded far-fetched when I first read it. However, not only did the author do an excellent job of making it clear where all the action was set—for anyone familiar with Marquette, Michigan—but he built an entertaining plot full of colorful characters that made it difficult to put the book down.
The story begins when Willie Salo, a drinking, pot-smoking, partying, womanizing fellow finds a money belt at the local dump. He soon gets the idea to use the belt to create a bomb he can attach to a wealthy man so he can make that person do whatever he wants, primarily get him millions of dollars. He tells his ex-girlfriend, Carmen, about his plan, hoping it will make her come back to him. Carmen is married to a wealthy man but she only married him for his money and would rather be with Willie. Once Willie has the money, she plans to spend her days with the man she loves. Together the two of them quickly scheme and take their opportunity when it presents itself.
Through a series of mishaps for several people in the Marquette area, Willie has the chance he has been awaiting when a wealthy man ends up in a dumpster at the Flat Squirrel Bar. From that point, the plot thickens with many twists and turns along the twisting turning road to Big Bay that involves a logging truck losing its load on the highway, a bank president being framed, and an airplane pilot finding love. I won't summarize the plot more because it will give away too much of the suspense regarding what happens to all the characters.
While the plot of "The Money Belt" may be a bit far-fetched, readers will enjoy this escapist story and even come to feel a bit of fondness for the main characters, despite their less than moral or likeable personalities. Robertson is a master at keeping the plot moving and the reader interested. With a couple exceptions, he writes short fast-paced chapters, and without giving too much detail, he provides believable character portraits that make the characters' motivations always clear. Anyone who loves a good story, especially one with many twists and turns will love this book. My only complaint is that the ending was left a bit open—a sign I hope that Alan Robertson will write a sequel to "The Money Belt" because I want to know what happened next for the characters.
I hope for more entertaining books from Robertson's pen. His first book, "The Money Belt" is definitely first notch in its genre.