Keen to capitalize on his debut, Free to Trade (1995), a bestselling bond-market thriller, London-based Ridpath once again relies on his City trading know-how, but this time adds a dash of bonnie Scotland (in the form of a computer company specializing in virtual reality applications) to freshen the mix. Young Mark Fairfax is an ace bond trader, honest and eagle-eyed in search of a good point spread; his brother Richard is the driving force behind Fairsystems, an upstart outfit positioned to lead the pack into the virtual reality generation--if it can avoid going bankrupt. The troubled Richard is murdered before he can tell Mark what's on his mind, and in order to quiet infighting within the company, Mark is appointed its temporary director. As he soon learns, it's a stretch to go from the trading desk to top management, but he succeeds in stopping his disloyal sales chief from giving away the company source code, in stemming a panic when the main client suddenly stops payment, and in winning a confidence vote from the shareholders--he even finds time to get chummy with Rachel, his brainy, beautiful head of R&D, especially after his girlfriend in London, also a Fairsystems shareholder, votes against him. The hazards of his job, however, aren't limited to business: Richard's death remains unsolved, and Mark is the victim of e-mail threats and physical assaults. When a prime suspect in Richard's case is himself murdered, and Mark and Rachel barely escape after being drugged and driven into a loch, things look bleak, but in the nick of time a key bit of evidence is found, allowing the pair to turn the tables on the killers via the wonders of virtual reality. Smooth and brimming with high-tech gimmicks: perfect for those who prefer nobrainer fiction; for the rest, this may seem a vapid tale peopled by flat characters.