A debut novel with lots of zeroes coming after it.

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PLAY MONEY

A 30-year-old Wall Street lawyer and first-novelist depicts young men caught up in the sparkling and expensive world of 1990s financial intrigue.

Tim Fletcher is a bit disillusioned with the biz after eight months, and can’t stop himself from mentioning the Post sympathetically and using chewing tobacco when he finally meets Kathleen, whose library is as impressive as his own. Alan is either a big mover and shaker, or simply a proxy who can’t stop himself from shaking when homeboys on the subway leer at him. And Martin is the smooth operator with a deal for both of them: some hot new software, needing only a lawyer and a venture capitalist to make their dream IPO come true. How can Tim resist, with all those D-cups passing him endlessly on the street, and how will Alan otherwise hope to reconcile his Jewish mother and secular humanist wife when all his other deals keep dissolving beneath his feet? Of course they both go for Martin’s deal, but is it a fantasy? A Faustian bargain? And what will Kathleen think now that she’s calling him “honey”? Apart from a lot of financial jargon Tom Clancy would aspire to if he were to tackle the financial world, Allen’s characters and his New York are largely familiar (as if with his authorial eye on film execs, Allen describes one character as parading about like Tom Cruise at the first screening of Top Gun). But if the author lacks something in fictional craft, he at least attempts to redeem things with portraits of financial old hands and savvy analysts, though his best bit has nothing to do with either character or plot: “The ticker—the chosen metaphor for an epoch too impatient, too cocksure, to leave the choosing to the future, its symbolic nature attested to by its misnomer and mass proliferation at exactly the moment when it was no longer of any use. It did not tick; what did anymore?”

A debut novel with lots of zeroes coming after it.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2003

ISBN: 1-56947-338-2

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Soho

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2003

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A strange, subtle, and haunting novel.

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THE GLASS HOTEL

A financier's Ponzi scheme unravels to disastrous effect, revealing the unexpected connections among a cast of disparate characters.

How did Vincent Smith fall overboard from a container ship near the coast of Mauritania, fathoms away from her former life as Jonathan Alkaitis' pretend trophy wife? In this long-anticipated follow-up to Station Eleven (2014), Mandel uses Vincent's disappearance to pick through the wreckage of Alkaitis' fraudulent investment scheme, which ripples through hundreds of lives. There's Paul, Vincent's half brother, a composer and addict in recovery; Olivia, an octogenarian painter who invested her retirement savings in Alkaitis' funds; Leon, a former consultant for a shipping company; and a chorus of office workers who enabled Alkaitis and are terrified of facing the consequences. Slowly, Mandel reveals how her characters struggle to align their stations in life with their visions for what they could be. For Vincent, the promise of transformation comes when she's offered a stint with Alkaitis in "the kingdom of money." Here, the rules of reality are different and time expands, allowing her to pursue video art others find pointless. For Alkaitis, reality itself is too much to bear. In his jail cell, he is confronted by the ghosts of his victims and escapes into "the counterlife," a soothing alternate reality in which he avoided punishment. It's in these dreamy sections that Mandel's ideas about guilt and responsibility, wealth and comfort, the real and the imagined, begin to cohere. At its heart, this is a ghost story in which every boundary is blurred, from the moral to the physical. How far will Alkaitis go to deny responsibility for his actions? And how quickly will his wealth corrupt the ambitions of those in proximity to it? In luminous prose, Mandel shows how easy it is to become caught in a web of unintended consequences and how disastrous it can be when such fragile bonds shatter under pressure.

A strange, subtle, and haunting novel.

Pub Date: March 24, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-52114-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Nov. 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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When a book has such great comic timing, it's easy to finish the story in one sitting.

THE HONEY-DON'T LIST

A toxic workplace nurtures an intoxicating romance in Lauren’s (The Unhoneymooners, 2019, etc.) latest.

Rusty and Melissa Tripp are the married co-hosts of a successful home-makeover show and have even published a book on marriage. After catching Rusty cheating on Melissa, their assistants, James McCann and Carey Duncan, are forced to give up long-scheduled vacations to go along on their employers' book tour to make sure their marriage doesn’t implode. And the awkwardness is just getting started. Stuck in close quarters with no one to complain to but each other, James and Carey find that the life they dreamed of having might be found at work after all. James learns that Carey has worked for the Tripps since they owned a humble home décor shop in Jackson, Wyoming. Now that the couple is successful, Carey has no time for herself, and she doesn’t get nearly enough credit for her creative contribution to their media empire. Carey also has regular doctor’s appointments for dystonia, a movement disorder, which motivates her to keep her job but doesn’t stop her from doing it well. James was hired to work on engineering and design for the show, but Rusty treats him like his personal assistant. He’d quit, too, but it’s the only job he can get since his former employer was shut down in a scandal. Using a framing device similar to that of Liane Moriarty’s Big Little Lies, the story flashes forward to interview transcripts with the police that hint at a dramatic ending to come, and the chapters often end with gossip in the form of online comments, adding intrigue. Bonding over bad bosses allows James and Carey to stick up for each other while supplying readers with all the drama and wit of the enemies-to-lovers trope.

When a book has such great comic timing, it's easy to finish the story in one sitting.

Pub Date: March 24, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9821-3864-6

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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