Award-winning author Maitland-Lewis’ (Emeralds Never Fade, 2012) new financial thriller is a dark, plummeting tale of corporate greed, civil rancor and personal vice set against a backdrop of contemporary economic woes.
George Tazoli rose from humble beginning in East LA, earned average grades in college on a football scholarship and began a career as a trader, finding his way to Forest & Vignes Bank. He’s on a track for success—“very talented, hard working, and ambitious, though somewhat of a loner” and “cocky.” He’s also dating Sam Donovan, daughter of the bank’s president and granddaughter of its chairman. When Sam’s father, Peter, a man of many vices, finds himself in a difficult situation involving hundreds of millions of dollars of nonperforming, high-risk loans and the beleaguering weight of a gambling debt—not to mention an ill-tempered, disapproving wife and scornful father—he decides to create a new, shadowy position at the bank’s New York headquarters. He decides George is the man for the job: Reporting solely to Peter, he’ll be responsible for selling off the bank’s toxic assets; the arrangement also allows Peter and his wife to get George away from their daughter, in the hope that she might find a worthier match. Sam doesn’t cooperate with her parents’ plans, though, and she escalates things with George seemingly out of rebellion and inertia more than affection. George’s assignment is soon complicated by an embezzlement scheme proposed by his cousin Draeger, who’s also in finance. Draeger may be “uncouth, loud, and the epitome of sleaze,” but he’s internationally connected. In Maitland-Lewis’ novel of bad manners, the unsympathetic characters’ actions are based on greed, lust and vanity rather than propriety or courtesy. There’s even a member of the English gentry, whom Sam meets and begins a side romance. George, on the other hand, is already seeing Draeger’s sister-in-law, whom he’s hired as an assistant. Amid all the ignobleness, readers will have difficulty finding a sympathetic character or a redeeming sentiment. Smoldering with intrigue but a bit sluggish at times, the story traces an intriguing line en route to finding out who will get away with what.
Blackmail, betrayal and manipulation of the highest order.