MONEY by Paul-Loup Sulitzer


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A thinly plotted, rather cold and only intermittently entertaining novel of personal revenge in the realm of international high finance, by the author of the stronger The Green King (1984). Twenty-one-year-old Franz Cimballi is in trouble: he is destitute, having squandered his recently claimed trust fund in two months; his London house is being repossessed; his girlfriend has just committed suicide. And now Franz is approached by an agent of Swiss banker Martin Yahl, whom Franz suspects caused his father's death 12 years past by swindling his father out of the holding company he and Yahl had built up. Yahl's agent tells Franz he must leave London at once--the destination is his choice. He experiences a moment of transcendent rage, as he vows his life to avenging his father's destruction, and on a whim chooses Mombasa, Kenya, for his new home. In Mombasa, an anonymous letter tells Franz he has been cheated by Yahl out of at least $50 million, and Franz starts building his fortune with a cold determination. Working up from limited money-changing for tourists to gold trading at sea, he travels to Hong Kong and begins a hugely successful electronic gadget business, helped in European marketing by a Danish model named Ute, and in China by a mysterious Mr. Hak, half of whose body is steel. Franz globe-trots at a dizzying pace, carrying off one financial scheme after another, having several love affairs, and bringing down one by one the men who helped Yahl crush his father. Aided by a Lebanese trader and the disgustingly leprous former partner of Yahl and his father, Franz stages an elaborate stock shuffle that wipes out nearly all of Yahl's fortune, while ruining the banker's public reputation for probity. Having carried out his revenge, and having accumulated a huge fortune in the process, Franz then marries his true love, discovers his mother-in-law is Yahl's cousin and was the author of the anonymous note to Franz in Kenya, and moves back to his childhood home in St. Tropez. Currency-thin characters, a flat writing style and convoluted, lengthy financial stratagems nullify the occasional comic-book fun the book gives with its never-ending stream of bizarre people and Franz's manic mercenary energy. Bereft of the kind of solid beginning and mad grand vision of the hero of The Green King, this short-changes even the reader with modest expectations.

Pub Date: Sept. 16th, 1985
Publisher: Lyle Stuart