Prizzi's Money is a satirical, semi-humorous crime novel by Richard Condon published in 1994. It is the last of four novels featuring the Prizzis, a powerful family of Mafiosi in New York City. It was also the last of 28 books that Condon wrote over a 36-year career. In all four Prizzi novels the main protagonist is a top member of the family named Charley Partanna.
Charley is 36 as this book opens,
Condon attacked his targets, usually gangsters, financiers, and politicians, wholeheartedly and with a uniquely original style and wit that make almost any paragraph from one of his books instantly recognizable. Reviewing one of his works in the International Herald Tribune, the well-known playwright George Axelrod (The Seven-Year Itch, Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter), who had collaborated with Condon on the screenplay for the film adaptation of The Manchurian Candidate, wrote:
"The arrival of a new novel by Richard Condon is like an invitation to a party.... the sheer gusto of the prose, the madness of his similes, the lunacy of his metaphors, his infectious, almost child-like joy in composing complex sentences that go bang at the end in the manner of exploding cigars is both exhilarating and as exhausting as any good party ought to be."
In Prizzi's Honor, Condon's normal exuberance was somewhat curbed by choosing to narrate the events through the viewpoints of its various semi-literate gangsters, which limited the scope of his imagery. In Money, however, he returns to being his usual omniscient narrator, giving the reader:
Vincent had a totally closed face, like a bank vault shut impenetrably by a system of time locks. Somewhere, hidden deep within his past, there was a boyish openness that had not been seen by anyone for over sixty years because, through carelessness, the combination to the shut vault of his expressiveness had been lost, somewhere in his preternatural resentment of everything that moved.
He was a smallish man with a jockey's hump at the top of his spine, coffee-colored skin, and a nose not quite as large or as colorful as a keel-billed toucan's.
Charley Partanna... was a large, muscular man with a voice like grinding taxicab gears. In fact, if taxis wore clothes they would resemble Charley.
Real-life names in the book
All of Condon's books have, to an unknown degree, the names of real people in them as characters, generally very minor or peripheral. The most common, which appears in most of his books, is some variation of Franklin M. Heller. The real-life Heller was a television director in New York City in the 1950s, '60s, and 70s, who initially lived on Long Island and then moved to a house on Rockrimmon Road in Stamford, Connecticut. In this book Franklin Marx Heller is the senior partner of a Wall Street law firm called O'Connell, Heller & Melvin. page
A.H. Weiler, a film critic for The New York Times, was another friend of Condon's who in this book is mentioned several times as Doctor Abraham Weiler, "the most renowned plastic surgeon of the day". page 37
In a number of books a character named Keifetz appears, named apparently for Norman Keifetz, a New York City author who wrote a novel about a major league baseball player called The Sensation—a novel that was dedicated to Condon. In this book he is referred to as Wambly Keifetz of the Bahama Beaver Bonnet Company. page 101
Condon was a long-time friend of the thriller-political novel writer Charles McCarry and in this book has a newspaper reporter named McCarry covering the Kennedy Airport beat. page 115
Publishers Weekly loved it:
Kirkus Review had mixed feelings about it:
The New York Times, definitely liked it:
- Prizzi's Money, by Richard Condon, Crown Publishers, Inc., New York, 1994, page 41
- Prizzi's Money, by Richard Condon, Crown Publishers, Inc., New York, 1994, page 42
- Prizzi's Money, by Richard Condon, Crown Publishers, Inc., New York, 1994, page 43
- Remembrance of Frank Heller, by Ira Skutch, at
- Publishers Weekly, 1 September 1988
- Kirkus Review, 23 September 1988
- The New York Times, 9 October 1988