“Black Fridays" by Michael Sears (Putnam)
While the economy appears to be, we hope, rebounding, the financial thrillers thrive, illustrating how lives are devastated by careless greed. And greed, as we all know, never goes out of style, despite the economy.
Michael Sears, who spent more than 20 years on Wall Street, delivers a thoughtful, intricate cautionary tale in his impressive debut about greed, mismanaged money and the thrill that the unscrupulous get from cheating the unsuspecting.
Wall Street hotshot Jason Stafford never started out to be a criminal. A simple accounting error snowballed into a felony when his portfolio lost more than $500 million. Jason lost his career and spent two years in prison.
But Jason didn’t lose his soul or his sense of humor to either Wall Street or the prison system. Although he can’t legally handle accounts, Jason can take a two-week consulting job examining the trading records of a young broker who recently died in a mysterious boating accident. The high pay will help him regain custody of his 5-year-old autistic son from his alcoholic ex-wife who prefers to lock the boy away in his room.
But the consulting job isn’t simple as Jason finds too many discrepancies among several traders’ work and resistance from brokers who see him as an unscrupulous ex-con.
Sears does a first-rate job in “Black Fridays" juggling the complex plot, explaining the financial markets so a novice can understand the intricacies but also appealing to the sophisticated reader. Sears shows how a broker can become intoxicated with each aspect of trading.