A man finds a quarter of a million dollars in his hotel room. He could use some bucks.
Rod Baird is out of the army as World War One is now over. He’s in New York on New Year’s Eve and is set to take a train back to the small Massachusetts town where he was a bookkeeper at a real estate agency. He gets a call from Jimmy Ladd who was in his unit. Jimmy is from a rich family.
He invites Rod to a party bringing in 1919. Rod is self conscious because he’s not a rich man but goes anyway. Jimmy introduces him to Eileen Elsing. He dances with her and gets real interested. He starts getting into the spirit of things and downing the booze. He even sticks a hundred dollar bill into the top of a waitress’s stocking. He’s not happy when Eileen’s middle aged fiance Sam Blackmar shows up. She interested in him because of his money.
When they leave she gives Rod an expensive diamond pin to keep for her. Rod doesn’t know it but as soon as he put it in his pocket someone reached in and took it out. After a night of carousing Rod goes back to his room. The next morning he remembers a canvas bag he kicked under the bed. It’s not his. He sees some hundred dollar bills on the floor. He opens the bag and there’s over a quarter on a million in cash.
He needs to repay Jimmy a hundred and he has to replace the stick pin so he helps himself. Even though it’s New Year’s Day, Eileen takes him to the shop where Sam bought her the pin and Rod orders a new one. It’s over three grand. He leaves a couple hundred on deposit.
Rod goes back to his old job but is fired when his stuffed shirt bosses hear all about his drunken fun at the party. He sells some property he has and goes back to New York. He takes a few grand for himself and put the remaining two hundred thousand in storage.
He moves into some nice digs, gets a job making 23-thousand a year at Jimmy and his father’s investment banking business and gets closer to Eileen. Then waiting for him is Fannie Holben. She’s the waitress he gave the hundred to and knows him from their hometown. Trouble.
She hints that the money belongs to gambler Frankie Landers. He’s on his way out of jail on an assault charge. She tries to blackmail Rod into investing in a show she wants to back and star in. He tells her to take a hike.
The book mixes all these characters and puts the relationship of Rod and Eileen ahead of the crime element. It’s okay as a mainstream novel about a small town man adjusting to the big city and an uptown girl. Rod is not portrayed as a rube but he is in a dangerous situation. It will drag for those looking for a basic crime novel.