The Money Explosion is a children’s tie-in novel for the Mission: Impossible television series. Those familiar with the series will be familiar with the miraculous deeds that the IMF have performed in the past. Here they are explained as such:
From page 16.
But often the sudden surprises that boded well for the forces of freedom and democracy were neither unexplicable nor happy strokes of luck. Often these were indications that Jim’s Impossible Missions Force had been on the job. IMF went in where the knots were too tangled for any other agency or group to untie. IMF went in unseen, without official existence, and came out without plaudits – but with the knowledge of a worthwhile job well done.
The story opens in Tampa, Florida, in the Latin Quarter. Jim Phelps, in a rented car, pulls up and makes his way to a record store, and requests a tape from the store attendant. The attendant hands Phelps the recording, and Phelps takes in back to his car to listen to the tape/cartridge in private. The mission concerns the tiny Carribean island of Esperanza, which has suffered at the hands of tyrannical rulers for centuries. But their new President, Petro Martinez is a beacon of light and hope for the future. But the leader of the opposition, Diego Ochoa has a dastardly plan to upset the economy of the struggling nation. And through his manufactured economic crisis, he plans to seize power.
Ochoa’s plan concern’s a young intelligence officer named Alexie Darstov, who works for an un-named military power that is in direct opposition to America (Russia). Darstov has overseen the printing of millions of counterfeit pestas (Esperanza’s currency) which he plans to flood the country – literally a ‘money explosion’.
Jim’s mission, should he chose to accept it, is to stop the Ochoa – Darstov plan. To do this he needs a highly skilled team of operatives. These include Willy Armitage, Barney Collier, The Great Paris and Tracey Hale.
The Mission: Impossible television series was always beautifully written and edited. Each episode presented the viewer with a snippet of the briefing – not all of it. Just enough to make the viewer believe they knew what was going to happen. Then as the plot unfolded, the story would twist into another direction. Unfortunately, chopping up a story into deceptively small pieces is a lot harder to do in a novel. It would read rather clumsy to have the start of the briefing, and then the end, leaving out the middle. Editing in a television series makes the show seem pacey, however in a book, large missing segments can seem lazy or confusing, even if the scenes are mundane. A certain amount of exposition is required, and that what The Money Explosion does – serve up that extra descriptive content. Which in some ways, ruins the magic of Mission Impossible…so much more of the mission is laid out at the beginning. The downside of this is at the beginning the story is overloaded with setup and very little action. To illustrate the point, the IMF team only move off from their briefing on page 44 – which is almost a quarter of the way through the book.
To the novel’s credit (and author Talmage Powell), the story still manages to serve up one or two twists. While I can say I enjoyed The Money Explosion, rather than being a great book, it instead highlights the strengths of the television show and how the formula is very hard to transfer to a linear novel format – keeping the same style and pace intact.