Thursday, November 18, 2010
"Anybody who plays the stock market not as an insider, is like a man buying cows ...by...moonlight." Daniel Drew
The subject matter of this novel is as timely as getting the information from the six o'clock news.
Will Connelly, a corporate attorney, comes to work early to work on a project. He's busy at his work when he sees the body of senior associate, Ben Fisher, plummet past his window on the thirty-eighth floor.
Will is still dwelling on his grief when managing partner, Dan Rubinowski, informs him that even though it's a sorrowful time, business must continue and announces that Will has been made a managing partner.
Wanting to celebrate, Will stops at a bar on the way home. He meets a Russian woman and they begin talking about work. She gets him to admit that he's working on a merger for a client, Jupiter Software. This company is a world leader in encryption software.
No sooner does he tell her this then he realizes that he has broken a number of securities laws, divulging a possible merger of a publicly traded company. If Katya bought stock in the company, he would also be guilty of insider trading.
Katya is persuasive and invites him to her apartment where they spend the night. The next morning, two Russian men bang on the door. Yuri and Nikolai enter the apartment, rough Will up and demand more information on what Will is working on.
Naively, Will is afraid for Katya as much as for himself. Then, after using physical force, Yuri tells Will that he wants early information on the merger so that he can invest and earn some money. Again, implausibly, Will doesn't go to the authorities but knows that he's in trouble and has broken security laws.
At the firm, Claire Rowland, is the due diligence officer. Her job is to make sure that the proper laws are followed. In a cost cutting move, she is fired against Will's vote. That night, Claire asks Will to join her for a drink. At her apartment she tells him that something is going on at work. There is a government program to hide a computer chip in the encryption software so the government will know what's going on and decrypt the data in every encryption program.
The story is a bit technical but Reece Hirsch is a strong writer and has put together an interesting and timely novel. The plot moves swiftly and the final confrontation adds an unexpected surprise. The author has developed a sympathetic character in Will and I enjoyed seeing Will maneuver his way out of an impossible situation.
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