LIMIT BID! LIMIT BID! by Charles Baxter Clement


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Another farfetched excursion into wheeler-dealing by the author of The Fairy Godmother (1981)--this time focusing on commodity futures (instead of bond) trading in the pre-oil embargo days of the early 1970s. Richard Johnson, promising young associate with a leading Memphis law firm, catches the restless eye of young Warwick Morgan, heir to a Mississippi plantation. And, though raised a Baptist in the hard-scrabble hills of eastern Tennessee, Harvard-trained Johnson enthusiastically joins forces with the hard-drinking Morgan. After all, the inducements include not only a piece of the action from a planned killing in the cotton market . . . but also the favors of mysterious, blonde Irene Moody--a sometime Morgan paramour and sister of his personal bookie. The cotton scheme? Well, convinced that new weather patterns will trigger a protracted series of crop failures, the charismatic Morgan goes long on a wealth of cotton contracts--for his own account as well as for the susceptible Johnson (who by now has acquired a taste for la dolce vita). The climate cooperates; paper profits accumulate at a heady pace. Before the speculators can cash in, however, the Arabs foil the near comer by embargoing petroleum shipments to the West and precipitating a crash in futures quotes for industrial commodities like cotton. So, faced with a mountain of margin obligations, Morgan takes it on the lam to Switzerland; the credulous Johnson begins to understand he's been played for a chump; and, in an implausible role reversal, he survives an Alpine shootout with Irene's vengeful brother and appropriates the getaway cash stashed in a numbered account by his erstwhile mentor. . . who self-destructs at the Zurich airport. An improbable perspective on the commodities scene--with an unengagingly venal cast of characters, playskool plotting, but some marginal interest for vicarious speculators.

Pub Date: Aug. 27th, 1984
Publisher: Jameson--dist. by Kampmann (9 East 40 St., New York, NY 10016)