NIGHT CALL FROM A DISTANT TIME ZONE by Herbert Lieberman

NIGHT CALL FROM A DISTANT TIME ZONE

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KIRKUS REVIEW

After about 100 pages of fairly daunting and less-than-fascinating exposition re international financial shady-dealing (roll-overs, forward-swaps, self-dealing, etc.), Lieberman's new novel becomes a simple, modestly effective revenge/romance thriller--but one without the urgency or top-drawer writing of his strongest fiction (e.g., City of the Dead). The unsympathetic hero is currency-trader Charles Danghtry, 33, an untutored math genius and workaholic who has risen fast at the Confederated Trust Bank. But now Daughtry's world is crumbling--because, as we learn in undramatic flashbacks, he, as Confederated's representative (and on tacit orders from higher-ups), helped the bank's biggest shareholder, Japanese super-tycoon Sujimoto, to do some very illegal deals; and now that Sujimoto's empire has suddenly collapsed, the bank teeters on bankruptcy, vice-presidents are being fired, and Daughtry is headed for a criminal trial--though he refuses to shield his bosses or Sujimoto, who could at least partly help to clear him. So where is old Sujimoto now? Hiding out in extradition-free Liechtenstein with his longtime French mistress, their daughter Mariko (with whom Daughtry has had an affair), and $200 million in the cellar of his fortress. The authorities try to grab Sujimoto, to no avail; and Sujimoto's deranged son Kajumi (by his late Japanese wife), obsessed with his own failures, is stalking Daughtry in N.Y. (with guns and grenades), determined to redeem the family honor. Not surprisingly, then, as his trial-date approaches, Daughtry decides to head for Liechtenstein himself and, one way or another, force Sujimoto to testify in court. Will Mariko become Daughtry's ally, betraying her father? Will Daughtry become a warmer-hearted fellow? And what about Kajumi, whose homicidal mania has now turned on his father and on Mariko's mother--whom Sujimoto, ill, has decided to marry at last? These are serviceable suspense premises, with violence erupting at the wedding and a few nice twists at the close. But Lieberman seems unenthusiastic about the thriller elements here, picking them up and dropping them sporadically; there's extensive material (belabored, often pointless) about Daughtry's obsession with war-history--with war/finance parallels; and though Lieberman is apparently fascinated by the grand-scale finesse and amorality of the money market, the details are tossed in here and there rather than dramatized. So: mostly for those with finance know-how or an intense interest; others will find this only intermittently involving--and may not get through that first, number-heavy section.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1982
Publisher: Crown