Fascinating, if uneven, debut thriller that links Wall Street treachery to international terrorism.
Credit debut author Conway, pseudonym for a hedge fund insider and an ad firm global strategy planner, for a premise that layers the threat of international terrorism onto the world’s considerable anxieties over a global economic collapse. It’s a double whammy that, as Conway lays it out, seems plausible. The notion is that far darker villains than Bernie Madoff may lurk about Wall Street, namely international terrorists who seek to bring the country down through financial disaster. A glimmer of what’s afoot first appears to Drew Havens, “a CUNY-educated nobody” crunching numbers for Citibank in Long Island City. Havens is spotted by Wall Street shark Rick Salvado, who admires Havens’ crack ability to spot stocks ripe for short selling (some readers may need a tutorial to follow the author’s complicated expositions on this topic). Following Havens’ canny insights, Salvado’s firm, Rising Fund, soars. Havens soon finds the work distasteful and wants out. About to bail, he’s alerted by Danny Weiss, a co-worker, that Rising Fund is involved is some peculiar, suspicious trades. Then Weiss is rubbed out, leaving behind several coded messages that Havens endeavors to decipher. In Hong Kong, meanwhile, another trader is taken out just as he, too, made a series of trades in computer stocks. That murder brings onto the scene Cara Sobieski, who, as part of the newly formed Terrorism and Financial Intelligence task force, suspects that some sort of Wall Street jihad approaches—a possibility Havens also suspects as he begins to understand Weiss’ cryptic jottings and as other murders of traders follow. Conway effectively links Havens’ and Sobieski’s personal lives to their careers, giving the characterizations texture. Divorced and racked by family tragedy, Havens seeks solace in statistics. After a series of failed relationships, Sobieski turns to promiscuous sex. Alas, their troubles play out in scenes that, hampered by clichés and stilted dialogue, often go thud.
Sure to unsettle readers who check their investments 10 times a day.