Story starts off well enough as two inseparable girl friends attend a Carolina college fraternity party that goes bad. One of them, naturally the one who was reluctant to go the party ends up being attacked by drunken brothers and as she tries to save herself she falls out a window and dies. Believe me these nine pages are gripping. It's straight downhill from there. The author seems totally fixated thruout the rest of the book in totally unbelievable characters. There seem to be racists and bigots absolutely everywhere. This was really a painful read to get thru.
Angela Day, the central character of this story, has managed to overcome a life of poverty and tragedy to to create a rewarding career as a respected lending officer with Sumter Bank in Richmond, VA. However she is still haunted by the death of Sally Chambers, her childhood friend and college roommate, during their senior year at the university. (It is a central element of the story that Angela is white and Sally was black.) Over a decade later, Angela still feels reponsible for the circumstances of Sally's death and the racism that was responsible for the tragic incident; this experience has imbued her with a deep seated hatred of the residual traces of racism that still may be shared by some of the top managers of her bank. Thus, she has chosen to help Liv Jefferson, a local reporter, unearth material for an expose concerning the lending practices of Sumter bank. The other major regret in Angela's life is her divorce from Sam Reese, the son Chuck Reese, one of Richmond's wealthiest men and a sworn enemy of Bob Dudley, the chairman of Sumter Bank. Chuck believed Sam married beneath himself and convinced Sam to divorce Angela and marry into society. He also arranged for Sam to win the custody case for their six year old son Hunter, so that Angela has minimal visitation rights and is fearful that her relationship with Hunter will deteriorate as he grows up with the advantages that the Reese family can offer him. Suddenly, an opportunity is offered for Angela to advance her career and regain custody of Hunter at the same time. She is summoned to a secretive meeting in Wyoming with the reclusive multi-billionaire Jake Lawrence to be his go-between and do due diligence for an acquisition that he wants to consummate. Jake Lawrence has also been acquiring an ownership interest in Sumter Bank, and Bob Dudley and his management team become paranoid that Angela (who has been sworn to secrecy by Jake) is really helping Jake prepare for a takeover of Sumter. Soon it becomes evident not only that Jake Lawrence has to fear for his life given the powerful enemies that he has created, but that Angela has taken on an assignment that has put her in serious danger as well. Thus Jake's ranch foreman and trusted lieutenant John Tucker is commissioned as Angela's aide and bodyguard. The above description only gives the most elementary outline of the complexity of this story. The author's familiarity with the financial world allows him to provide enough detail to allow the reader to develop the necessary understanding of corporate takeovers and financial maneuvering to make the individual elements of the plot believable. And the only error that I noted in this regard was referring to the key decision elements of leading edge predictive software as logarithms rather than algorithms. The key to my enjoyment of this story was the complexity of the plot, the many separate but interrelated (and in the end essential) story lines, and the incredible misdirection. In many ways reading this is like trying to anticipate the next development in a detective story. The clues are there, but most evident only in retrospect. (Although I was successful in anticipating the story in a few instances.) However, despite the fact that the roles of many of the characters are not what they seem, after reading the conclusion I felt that I had been mislead unfairly in just one instance. In conclusion, I found this book to be a real page turner. While the elements involving financial markets were the centerpiece of the story, this was more action filled and concerned with personal relationships and questions of ethics and morality than Frey's other books. The character development is adequate for his purposes but certainly not the reason to read the story. I recommend this book strongly, my only reason for not rating it five stars is that while the story was cohesive and internally consistent, the combination of all the elements makes it necessary for the reader to suspend belief as the layers of complexity are revealed.
Writer always leads with a complex plot. Good characters full of dimension and faced with difficult situations. Have enjoyed many of his books. Many twists and turns to this story; makes for a good read.
The prose here is increadibly choppy. It breaks and starts like a second graders first story. In many ways this is some of the worst writing that I have encountered in some time. One of the other reviewers here said that "the first nine pages were gripping and that its all down-hill from there." But I disagree. I think that from the outset, the plot is tortured in its absurdity. The death that Angela witnesses is contrived and sets up a very idiotic racism bent that seems to prevail throughout this book. I think that if you are going to touch on a subject like racism these days you are going to have to treat it with a little more respect than as a 3rd rate plot device.
Beyond the campy racisim, you have strong figures that are as 2 dimensional as can be. I mean, these figures here are straight out of every bad book you have ever read. It is like the author has combed old books and bad movies searching for the prototypical bad guy.
Avoid this book like the plauge. It is very very bad.