Wednesday, August 31, 2011
By Arthur Hailey
A few days in the life of a privately-owned hotel in New Orleans in the early 1960s. Due to the ineptitude or indifference of the owner, an elderly man who lives at the hotel, it is experiencing difficulties including graft, criminal activity, and a dilapidated air conditioning system and faltering elevators. The owner is also in trouble since he can't find a lender who is willing to refinance the $2 million note on the hotel which is due in a few days. Meanwhile trouble is brewing among the guests with some upset about the hotel's refusal to allow a black man to stay at the hotel and a sneak thief at work in the hotel and a couple of guests who are guilty of a hit and run accident. Mix in employees on the take doing their best to enrich themselves at the hotel's expense, elderly employees who are set in their ways and maids walking out of the hotel with expensive beef steaks strapped to their thighs and you have a hotel in serious trouble.
This was a pretty good story if a little predictable. The characters are interesting even if the situations they find themselves in are not all that unexpected or different. I suppose at the time it was written the book was a lot more surprising and exciting than it is more than fifty years later. But it was still a good read with a nice bit of local color thrown in.