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SHADOW ACCOUNT by Stephen Frey

SHADOW ACCOUNT

By Stephen Frey

Pub Date: March 1st, 2004
ISBN: 0-345-45758-7
Publisher: Ballantine

Money-melodrama in which characters join conspiracies the way they once pledged fraternities.

Nobody wants to be left out—accountants, stock mavens, bankers, cabinet members. And Potus? You betcha. The feds? Goes without saying. Ordinary folk? Just ask them. If you’re past the age of puberty in the sneaky old land of Frey (Silent Partner, 2003, etc.) and not in a conspiracy, it’s as if you’ve been blackballed, shunned, and condemned to sociological skunkhood. Exception: hunky investment banker Connor Ashby. But then poor Connor’s the one being done to. Consider: he leaves gloriously naked Liz in his bed, sent by her to fetch a pack of cigarettes, and returns, not 20 minutes later, to a world revamped beyond recognition. Yes, of course, blame the conspirators. For reasons best known to themselves—and, on the implausible side, to anyone else—they’ve done for stunning Liz and totally wrecked Connor’s apartment. Connor himself gets chased by the murderous intruder, who takes potshots at him—wings him, in fact. Connor barely eluding him by slithering down the fire escape. But the conspirators have only just begun to torment. When Connor returns this time—cops in tow—it’s to find order where once there’d been chaos, including a bed now entirely devoid of blood-spattered blond. Well, what’s it all in aid of? And why Connor? Is it just because, in addition to being stunning in his own right, he’s as smart as investment bankers ever get? Or just because he’s so gosh darn upright he won’t conspire unless manipulated silly? A yes nails it. The conspiracy involves multinational corporations, billions of dollars, and a prime selection of bad guys snatched from the corridors of power. But without Connor it’s all just another small-time con.

Plotting that swings from absurd to soapy, pasteboard people, and pedestrian prose: it’s enough to give conspiracy a bad name.