In this financial thriller, the devious girlfriend of a failed stockbroker tricks him into setting up a Ponzi scheme.
Struggling broker Michael Franklin seems doomed to live in the shadow of his recently retired father. Michael has inherited his dad’s multimillion-dollar book of business, though a tough market means he’s hemorrhaging clients. Before long, he loses his job. He’s adrift, but his alpha-female girlfriend, Jennifer, has a plan: She convinces her far-too-gullible boyfriend that she’s discovered a can’t-fail way to beat the market. It sounds too good to be true—and it is. Her real aim is to establish a Ponzi scheme with Michael as the frontman and fall guy. Michael—who’s head over heels for the sexy, self-interested Jennifer—has some misgivings but quickly quashes them, not realizing that the woman of his dreams has a criminal past. The pair’s first mark is Angela, a beautiful widow with a dark secret of her own. But when Michael and Angela fall in love, it jeopardizes the scheme. Greed is central to Dawkins’ (The Analyst, 2011) second novel, which astutely paints an ugly portrait of the financial industry’s seedy underbelly, complete with unscrupulous brokers, ruthless bosses and their relentless pursuit of financial gain. Jennifer is an expertly crafted villain, with a convincing veneer of charm and beauty that masks her cruel nature. Michael, in contrast, is a dim bulb; his desire to impress his imperious father is understandable, but his willingness to go along with Jennifer’s blatantly illegal scheme renders him unsympathetic. While it’s not surprising that less-savvy investors would be taken in by the Ponzi, the credulousness of both Michael’s father (a former “star stockbroker”) and a supposedly hard-nosed reporter (whose opinion pieces disguised as hard news wouldn’t pass muster at a high school paper) is harder to swallow. Ultimately, no one asks the obvious questions that would immediately expose the fraud, and a happy ending for one character in particular seems undeserved.
An engaging but occasionally implausible tale about the power of greed.