A thriller, set in the world of high-stakes finance, involves a ruthless trader who targets a government employee.
In Brandon’s (Death Mountain, 2015, etc.) first non-Western novel, Scott Quinn is a commodity trader haunted by his father’s failures in the market. Quinn crosses paths with Lauren Chandler, an attractive Department of Agriculture employee, and asks her out for a drink. She tells him to meet her after work at a restaurant named Henry’s. Soon, Chandler finds herself involved in a treacherous plot when she overhears Deputy Secretary Hayden Benson passing inside information about soybeans to Victor Merrick. Merrick turns out to be a cunning trader willing to blackmail and murder his way to a fortune. Benson discovers that Chandler overheard his call, and she immediately flees the office. He tells Merrick, and from that moment on, Chandler is in danger, just a few chapters in. She drives to her apartment complex and spots two sinister-looking strangers who turn out to be hit men. Terrified, she manages to meet Quinn at Henry’s and tells him: “I overheard something at work that I wasn’t supposed to hear, and now, they’re trying to kill me.” The two armed assassins appear at the restaurant and Quinn tells Chandler to run. Most of the book is devoted to the chase, and Brandon does a good job pacing the action and heightening the suspense for the most part. The author, a former commodity broker who now owns a company that specializes in virus and malware removal, puts both of those bodies of knowledge to work in thinking of a clever way to defeat the different levels of security the Department of Agriculture might employ to protect commodity reports. But there are times, especially in a sequence in which Chandler joins Quinn on the trading floor, when the tale devolves into a tutorial on how the system operates. That’s understandable, because there is a lot the reader needs to know about the market to understand the intricacies of Merrick’s scam. But the rest of the book is snappy enough that the explanations can drag in parts. Quinn, Merrick, and even a hit man named Cade are well-drawn characters, but Chandler too often seems a caricature of the helpless damsel in distress.
The author keeps the action flowing and delivers enough clever twists to make this an enjoyable read for thriller fans, especially those who want to learn about the world of trading.