Beleaguered securities lawyer struggles to convince his fellow attorneys of a conspiracy against him.
Mueck engages readers early on with constant action and a sense of mystery in this debut novel, a corporate thriller framed as the testimony of Steve Renner. Wanted for murder and general mayhem, Steve tries to argue his innocence–he was a naÃ¯ve Wall Street grunt, he claims, seduced by the prospect of sex and profit when he joined nascent stock brokerage Shank, Ernie & Busher. According to his testimony, Steve soon realized that he had joined a dummy corporation expressly created to fail, and that his new employer was engaged in shady activities. In retaliation for his investigation, Shank, Ernie & Busher tried to intimidate him, torturing Steve and his loved ones. Steve reports how he suddenly turned butt-kicking detective to bring down his former employers. In short, the protagonist explains that he’s been a victim, rather than a perpetrator of a vast evil conspiracy. Constructed as Steve’s attempts to clear his name, The Account starts as a promising framework in which to discuss truth and moral accountability, but the setup becomes a periodic distraction. Mueck ditches both initial kinky undertones and thematic heft in favor of a chase novel with all the improbable flair of a James Bond movie. Steve horns his way into the police case against his firm, taking out henchmen and hurling makeshift explosives with unrealistic facility. Such a character switch could be acceptable if the book’s tone were appropriately nimble, but the author bogs down his story with over-literate, self-conscious dialogue and an unexpected info-dump at the conclusion, during which he summarizes all the characters’ true motives.
Fleetly paced and engrossing, but less consequential than it thinks it is.