HANOVER PLACE by Michael M. Thomas


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Another first-rate entertainment from Thomas, whose previous novels (The Ropespinner Conspiracy, Hard Money, etc.) have also been informed by a cautionary regard for civility, discipline, restraint, taste, and allied values that seem to be under siege in any age. This time around, he offers a lengthy but fast-paced history of S.L. Warrington & Sons, a tradition-steeped securities house founded in 1814 by a privateer captain who used prize money for capital. The generation-spanning narrative starts in 1924 when the heir to the family firm (graciously housed in lower Manhattan's Hanover Square) marries Lyda Vanderlyn Farwell, a grande dame to be (modeled on the author's great-aunt). Born with the century, Lyda lives to 90, witnessing and participating in events that convulsed Wall Street as well as wider worlds beyond. Having lost her husband and all four of their sons (three to death and one to drugs) by the mid-1980's, however, she sells Warrington. The buyers, a high-rolling band of wheeler-dealers with more cash than class, rename the company Warmile Financial Group and use it as a vehicle to enrich themselves by restructuring corporate America. In a wickedly plausible plot twist, it develops that a shadowy mob operative--with money to launder from global narcotics sales--has for many years been supplying the wherewithal required for the New Crowd's dubious enterprises. In due course, most of the overleveraged business empires collapse of their own weight, triggering panic in capital markets throughout the world. The sorry tale ends in the near future, with the international financial system in total disarray and a new wave of anti-Semitism sweeping the country. Thomas (a sometime Lehman partner) knows how gentlemanly investment bankers and the trading-oriented aggressors who have succeeded if not replaced them play the money game. He also has a keen eye for the socioeconomic mores of both groups. Thus, while delivering an absorbing character-is-fate story line, the author is able to offer diverting commentary and a credible scenario on the wages of fiscal sin.

Pub Date: Jan. 15th, 1989
Publisher: Warner