In this debut thriller, a New York options trader finds himself in even a greater mess than the financial market.
Nuckel, who was a floor trader at the American Stock Exchange of the 1990s, brings an insider’s intimacy to this tale of seriously nasty doings in a market clearing company. The story features Frank McGinley, a 38-year-old—and getting older every minute—options trader who is on a slick downward spiral that will end in his very own delisting. The aftershocks of 9/11, drink, his antiquated status as a trader and his general revulsion at the financial-market life finds him at the end of his tether when a little hush money comes his way. Despite Nuckel’s open, direct prose—which lends itself to a nicely spooky, metronomic portentousness—it’s not wholly clear whether or not Frank might be willing to cash the check, but it doesn’t matter. Before he has a chance to bank it, he gets swept up in a Justice Department/Securities Exchange Commission sting—Nuckel is good with detailing the mechanics of skimming, not to mention pungent when it comes to overdrinking: “He felt himself sinking…The falling feeling was his companion”—that finds him on the wrong side of Harrison Heywood, a vicious hustler and ringleader of the scam. Harrison, in turn, introduces Carla Pugliese, an assassin who has been buzzing various troublemakers involved with the scam, into the story. Carla is both damaged goods and superwoman, and too diaphanous a character for her earthy presence, but serves to highlight the richness of character Nuckel has given Frank and Brogan, a natty Fed. The overall story has a good tempo, keeping events pleasingly off balance, but it’s the conclusion, which is spread over dozens of pages, that shines brightest, with snappy twists and credible surprises.
A taut thriller that cruises through the New York financial market, with all its blind curves and bumpy roadways, like a sports car.