MAKING MONEY by Terry Pratchett

Terry Pratchett's Discworld novels have plenty of comedic rogues and schemers, and Making Money revolves around what happens when such a con artist finds himself dragged into positions of authority.  It's also a lighthearted take on banking politics, and the occasional squid.

Moist von Lipwig was formerly Albert Spangler, a con artist who was rescued from hanging by Lord Vetinari, the ruler of Ankh-Morpork.  Vetinari set Moist up as the city's Postmaster General, where Moist did the unthinkable: He made the Post Office profitable.   It runs so smoothly, in fact, that Moist if bored beyond belief, even risking his life to break into a building that he runs.

Vetinari returns with a new proposal for Moist: making Moist in charge of Ankh-Morpork's Royal Mint, which makes the money for the city.  Moist doesn't want the job, even though he charms Topsy Lavish (formerly Turvy), who controls 51% of the bank's shares along with her little dog, Mr. Fusspot.  But when she dies, she leaves Moist ownership of Mr. Fusspot, and through him control of the bank, she also left the Guild of Assassins a contract on Moist's life in case anything suspicious happens to Mr. Fusspot.

Moist is threatened by Cosmo Lavish, who wants to take control of the bank (and who wants to become Vetinari by stealing and wearing his clothes); by Pucci Lavish, a spoiled and massive woman ("Pucci stood ignored and steaming with rage for a while and then flounced out.  It was a good flounce, too.  She had no idea how to handle people and she tried to make self-esteem do the work of self-respect, but the girl could flounce better than a fat turkey on a trampoline"); and by Cribbins, a lowly criminal with difficult false teeth who knows about Moist's past identity.

The bank is no walk in the park either.  Mr. Bent is the chief accountant who has literally no sense of humor.  Hubert has built the Glooper, a series of glass tubes and containers that somehow is supposed to predict the financial state of the city.  Igor (one of several) can build anything anyone wants -- but his literal interpretations usually have disastrous results.  The same can be said for Gladys, a hulking golem who works for Moist but has been getting ideas from women's magazine.

There's also Adora Belle, Moist''s chain-smoking fiancee whose big cause is golem liberation.  And Moist's plan to move Ankh-Morpork from a gold standard to paper money.  And the missing gold, a lecherous spirit, and the possibility that four ancient gold golems could be  walking through the city at any time.  What is Moist to do, but wing it -- while wearing a gold suit and top hat, of course...

Making Money is tremendous madcap fun.  While the novel lacks some of the reluctant warmth of other Pratchett novels -- Moist is interested in saving his own skin and staying one step ahead of his circumstances and enemies -- it has plenty of manic action (about banking!) and innumerable clever lines.  This is another fine, funny Pratchett novel.

Overall grade: A-
Reviewed by James Lynch

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