This third volume in a series of techno-thrillers pits Chester and Urno’s (Death by Tech, 2014, etc.) scientist/sleuth against murderous inside traders.
Halsted Aeronautic Lab scientist and amateur detective Evan Olsson’s latest string of misadventures begins at the Beverly Hills Hotel. He and girlfriend Lissa Larson are enjoying a magical evening when a fire alarm clears the building. Evan keeps the blaze in mind when he begins working with FBI agent Matt Emerson on a nationwide system to catch inside traders. Intending to be more thorough than the Securities and Exchange Commission, they begin by considering “traders who always seem to get it right, who act in advance of public information.” After a corporate jet for the K-Works company goes down, Evan and Matt are alerted to profitable trading activity by Raptor Holdings, run by Festron Bordick. While working this case, Evan juggles a tricky love life: the woman he desires, Lissa, is artistic but distant; the woman who desires him, Holly, is an emotional manipulator (and also Lissa’s stepsister) who insists on meddling in his relationship. Complicating Evan’s world further is his very own Moriarty, Chet Parsons, a former colleague who likes to drop in and try to kill him. Authors Chester and Urno pepper this sophisticated blend of finance, technology, and mystery with heavy doses of dry wit. Evan’s narration pops: “The loss of the shirt pained me, though not as much as second-degree burns would have.” Explanations of trading data are clear and frequently excellent, as is the psychology driving the scientific mind: “I am always looking for simplifications, ways to explain two different observations with a single underlying principle.” Most remarkable is the balance achieved among the novel’s many winding plotlines. Al, Evan’s artificially intelligent best friend, helps keep him sane during quiet moments, and in a masterful twist, the villains use Evan and Lissa’s penchant for vacations in the final gambit. Whether or not you’ve read the first two Evan Olsson mysteries, his newest is an engrossing romp filled with bleeding-edge surprises.
An extremely clever thriller that dazzles on every level.