Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Shenanigans in the world of FINANCE

A Shark Out of Water
Author: Emma Lathen
Publisher: HarperCollins
ISBN: 0-06-104460-1
pub. date: November, 1998
paperback, 328 pages

This one is doubtlessly hard to find, but considering the economic fix of the twenty-first century here, it's worth searching resellers.

Since her first in 1961, Emma Lathen, a pair of excellent writers, has written a number of novels that deal with the financial workings of Wall Street. The principal character in over 20 books is widower John Putnam Thatcher, now CEO of the Sloan Guarantee Trust, a staid, conservative commercial bank in New York. It may sound like a chancy idea, to base a series on the world of high finance without throwing in lots of sex and bizarre goings on. It is testament to the genius and the rectitude of the author that such easy solutions are nowhere present. Lathen has always made this sometimes arcane world mesmerizing and understandable.

All is consistent in this latest entry in the series. The characters are strong, fascinating, unusual, and the plot of this novel, is never out of sight. Set in the murky, shifting world of small emerging European nations after the fall of the Soviet Empire, we follow Thatcher into an interesting opportunity for investment by the Sloan in the seedy, dark, port of Gdansk, Poland. Pressure is building to enlarge an important German canal that connects the Baltic to the North Sea.

But all is not as it seems and Thatcher must weave his way through murder, political and commercial chicanery, and the evil that big business sometimes generates. Readers will be drawn inexorably into the sometimes dour, sometimes opulent machinations of the principal players. The story begins in deadly fog with a visceral, irresistible rush, and it doesn’t let go until the very end. A fine, fine novel.

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