Whatcha gonna do when you come out of church, having just eulogized your late boss at his funeral, and your limousine blows up in your face? And it’s only page three of a novel you’re Chairman of?
Well, what you’ll know is that you’re being kicked about as hero of a Frey (Shadow Account, 2003) megabillions-melodrama spilling with slimy financial hocus-pocus. But how can a thriller find climactic TNT for its plot if it sets off dynamite in Scene One? Christian Gillette—36 and greedier than Wall Street’s Gordon Gekko—has just replaced murdered Bill Donovan as chairman of the gigantic private equity company Everest Capital. That’s Everest, as in highest mountain, which Everest plans to become the equivalent of in confidential high-risk capital investment. For readers, icy Gillette is a tough sell. Bill Donovan used to log in 80-hour weeks with no vacations, and now even Gillette’s two girlfriends of the past ten years drop him for lack of quality companionship time. The plot turns on the fact that three other top men in Everest—Ben Cohen, Troy Mason and Nigel Faraday—might have been voted in as chairman, and one may have turned dirty. Still, we might find Donovan’s widow, with her fabulous inheritance, available for top slot as villain. Could she—or someone—be making a deal with the rival Strazzi company? But Troy Mason’s clean—because Gillette fires him on the spot when he sees him having carnal relations with Kathy Hays in the cellar during the funeral reception at Donovan’s house. Everest owns its private surveillance and security company, McGuire and Company, which may have become greedy itself. And what of the Canadian oil reserves that Everest dickers over? Is that deal going south? Hey, even Gillette’s not bulletproof. It may not be TNT, but Frey does provide a spectacular twist at the end.
Between murderous power shifts, the novel’s repeated operative phrase is How does it work?—followed by endless financial analyis and talk, talk, talk.