In Sherwood’s debut thriller, a businessman’s attempt to launder embezzled money puts other people in danger, including his old high school friend.
Childhood friends Matt DiGrande and Bryan Jeffries were budding capitalists in their teens, running various moneymaking schemes in high school. Nearly 30 years later, Matt is the successful editor-in-chief of a Chicago newspaper, while Bryan has recently stolen funds from World Supplî, where he’s the chief technology officer. He needs help hiding the money, and he wants to use Matt’s banking connections to do so. Bryan coerces his friend with his firsthand knowledge of a pre-college incident in Miami that Matt wants kept secret. In response, Matt assigns assistant editor Georgette “Gette” Cummings to look into World Supplî as covertly as possible. Her source there is the company’s system administrator, Chad Prescott, who’s already suspicious of Bryan and CEO Alan Chandler. Recent system reports reveal some highly unusual user activity, and Chad asks his friend, World Supplî productivity coordinator Paul Landau, to look over the data. Unfortunately, Gette’s investigation may not be as clandestine as she thinks, as Bryan becomes aware that someone’s asking about him. Sherwood bolsters his fairly uncomplicated plot by adeptly interweaving his characters’ stories together. Gette’s first encounter with Chad, for example, is pure happenstance; she comes to his aid at a jazz club when his co-worker, Fred, is relentlessly teasing him. Back stories appear in abundance, often to great effect; details about the ambitious Paul show him to be a worthy ally for Chad, while initial hints of a “tragic event” in Miami build suspense for the ensuing flashback. There’s some nuanced characterization, too, when a conflicted Gette debates whether she should come clean with Chad. The text does occasionally fall prey to odd or erroneous phrasings, though, as when Bryan is said to have “lever” over Matt instead of “leverage” or when the CTO tries to “fly under the radar screen.”
A commendable white-collar crime tale despite its occasional flaws.