The Efficiency Expert
Reviewed date: 2007 Mar 29
The Efficiency Expert is an unremarkable 1921 book by Edgar Rice Burroughs. It is set in Chicago, where newly minted college graduate Jimmy Torrance determines to make a living. In school he expended all his efforts at sports, and he utterly fails to land a decent job. Unwilling to return home and live off his father's charity, Jimmy sticks it out, taking menial jobs to keep from starving to death. He takes jobs as a hosiery salesman, a waiter, a sparring partner for a big-shot boxer, and as a milk delivery boy.
He makes a few friends, too: the Lizard, Chicago's best safe-cracker; and Eva, a prostitute with a heart of gold. When a strike puts Jimmy out of work for good, Eva helps him land a decent job: he signs on as an efficiency expert at the International Machine Company.
Jimmy knows nothing about efficiency, which puts him in a tight spot, considering he's been hired as an expert outsider to solve the problems at the International Machine Company. But he bluffs his way through at the beginning, and the job turns out to easier than he thought. The only problem at IMC is that Harold Bince, soon-to-be son-in-law of IMC owner Mason Compton, is stealing a thousand dollars a week from the payroll.
Bince isn't about to be exposed, so he tries to have Jimmy killed. When that fails, he frames Jimmy for the murder of Mason Compton. Fortunately, Jimmy is exonerated at the last minute when his two friends--Lizard and Eva--present evidence that fingers Bince as the murderer. Bince jumps to his death.
The Efficiency Expert is cliched and predictable. Further, Burroughs writes much of the dialog in dialect--which makes it difficult to read and adds little to the atmosphere. By all rights this book should have been out of print for decades. The only people who might be interested in reading it are die-hard Burroughs fans who feel the need to read everything he ever published. I only read it because I had no idea it was this crummy.