SWITCHBACK by Matthew Klein


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A successful currency speculator under pressure leaps out of the frying pan and into sci-fi territory in this torrid, over-plotted tale.

Palo Alto hedge fund manager Timothy Van Bender has it all: the understanding wife, the Yale connections, the gorgeous secretary, the BMW. The first sign that he’s losing it is emphatic enough to have ended most novels. A sudden surge in the price of the yen, against which the Osiris Fund II has bet heavily, leaves the fund short a cool $24 million. Since Timothy didn’t get where he is by hesitating, he instructs his numbers guy, Jay (the Kid) Strauss, to double down on his original bet, in effect betting the firm that the yen will drop. At first things go pretty much as you’d expect. The yen doesn’t drop enough. Leading Osiris investor Pinky Dewer demands to pull his money out. Timothy sweats bullets. But then his problems take a bizarre turn. His wife Katherine telephones him from Big Sur a few days after she’s celebrated their anniversary by asking him for $150,000 to say that she’s terminally ill and plans to take her life. When Det. Ned Neiderhoffer, of the Palo Alto PD, investigates, he finds every indication that Katherine went through with her plan—except for a body. Sunk in grief but still dimly aware that the moment of his complete financial ruin is rapidly approaching, Timothy is ill-equipped for the news that comes when he traces the missing $150,000 to a mysterious Dr. Clarence Ho: Days before she died, Katherine made arrangements to have Dr. Ho copy her brain. Timothy can communicate with her via keyboard, but what she really wants is for her consciousness to be implanted in a new body like that of Tricia Fountain, his impossibly beautiful secretary. From that point on, complications snowball in ways guaranteed to keep you up all night.

Klein (Con Ed, 2007) lards this preposterous tale with so many telling details about Timothy’s lifestyle and psychology that you’ll be swept up right along with him.



Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-7278-8051-2
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: Severn House
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15th, 2011


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