In Grippando’s latest (Afraid of the Dark, 2011, etc.), a Madoff-like character pilfers billions, but some victims don't complain. They kill.
Abe Cushman was the hot-from-the-headlines Ponzi purveyor who pulled a Houdini with $60 billion. Now his suicide has left the money lost in the shadows. Patrick Lloyd is a young financial analyst for the International Bank of Switzerland, a too-big-to-fail institution luxuriating on huge accounts accessible only by code numbers. The SEC is hamstrung, but the FBI isn’t. Patrick is persuaded by an FBI agent to seek assignment in Singapore. He agrees for selfish reasons. In Singapore, Patrick met and bedded Lilly Scanlon, another BOS analyst. Lilly was the agent for the electronic transfers of $2 billion flowing between Cushman and Gerry Collins’ GC Investments in Florida, one of the scheme’s feeder funds. Now Collins has been garroted, and Lilly is on the lam. Tony Martin, a witness-protected mobster bilked by Collins, confessed to the murder, but there are other bad actors involved. One is Manu Robledo, an Argentine with connections to South America’s Tri-Border region, a lawless outpost where guns and drugs are sold and terrorists find warm welcome. Lilly lands in New York seeking Patrick’s help, and as they investigate, the innocent and the guilty are kidnapped, tortured and killed. A complex and mind-dizzying shell game, Grippando’s tale is heavy on action and filled with the stereotypical characters necessary to keep pages turning. The new BOS chief is a former Treasury official who must find the money or lose more than his career. There’s Mongoose, a one-time covert agent. And then there’s a lowly quantitative analyst, a “quant,” who diagrammed a plot tracing the billions through a mysterious project code-named BAQ and into hawalas, a worldwide informal banking and money-transfer system often used by the wrong kind of people.
Agreeably entertaining, Grippando’s novel adds up the collateral damage when billions belonging to the wrong kind of people go missing.