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MORTAL BONDS by Michael Sears

MORTAL BONDS

By Michael Sears

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 2013
ISBN: 978-0-399-15867-4
Publisher: Putnam

Disgraced Wall Street trader Jason Stafford hunts the proceeds of a scam more successful and grandly scaled than he ever dreamed of.

When he killed himself in prison, William Von Becker left an unholy mess behind. The Ponzi scheme he’d run for years had finally blown up, leaving the latest investors holding the bag. The rifts between his widow, Olivia, and her children—foreign-exchange expert Binks, prodigal son Virgil, Asperger’s-stricken Wyatt and daughter Morgan—make it hard for them to present a united front about anything. And they’re stung by accusations that as much as $3 billion is still unaccounted for. On the theory of setting a thief to catch a thief, Virgil hires Stafford to look for the missing money. Jason’s preliminary inquiries among William Von Becker’s associates and staffers don’t turn up the loot, but they do reveal another important player: Colombian banker Tulio Botero Castillo, who claims that Von Becker’s haul included $100 million in negotiable bearer bonds. Castillo’s under pressure from some unsavory types with quick trigger fingers to recover the bonds, and he’s more than happy to share the pressure with Stafford. Soon, the tax attorney whose murder kicks off the tale is joined by two other victims, whose deaths do not bring Stafford any closer to his goal. Meanwhile, his poisonous ex-wife, Evangeline Oubre, has left Louisiana for a stay in New York. She says it’s to make amends under her 12-step program and spend some time with her son, whose autism makes him a handful for either parent; Stafford’s lover, Skeli, predicts darkly that she’s looking to reunite with Stafford after the spectacular flameout of her second marriage. Any way you look at it, the man has serious problems.

As densely plotted as Sears’ strong debut (Black Fridays, 2012), with complications that keep mounting in the race to the final curtain. A particularly nice touch is the subordination of the scheming suspects to Stafford’s troubled, loving relationship with his son.