Book of the Week
The Darlings / Cristina Alger.
In my opinion, this is an excellent, excellent novel. There is a lot of tension and suspense in the book, magnified by the date and time at the head of each chapter as the hours and days quickly tick by in the rush toward a disaster.
The Darling family receives word that close family friend and business partner Morty Reis has jumped off a bridge and is presumed dead. Why did he take this drastic action? His company was a successful fund manager for the wealthy Darling investment firm, handling a great deal of their clients' assets. Morty's company was doing extremely well, providing high returns on investment even when there were general economic downturns (shades of Bernie Madoff). It turns out that something is seriously wrong and the Securities and Exchange Commission had begun investigating. Paul Ross, who is married to a Darling daughter, is a fairly new general counsel in her father's firm and had been told by Paul Darling, her father, not to be concerned about Morty's firm. But push soon comes to shove now that there is a crisis and a sacrificial victim needs to be found to appease the SEC. Will Paul Ross agree to take the fall for his father-in-law, or will he protect himself? Will his wife stand by his side or shield her father? There are other entertaining storylines and characters in the book. A magazine editor tells his assistant on writing a profile of the Darlings, "I think people love to read about the personal lives of billionaires. Especially if they're kind of screwed up."
Booklist Review: "Probably the most compulsively readable fiction to come out of the Wall Street financial scandal so far, this debut novel by a former Goldman Sachs analyst offers readers plenty of schadenfreude, if only of the imaginary variety. Paul Ross, married to the daughter of billionaire investment manager Carter Darling, has lost his job. The pressure to maintain a Manhattan lifestyle trumps his unease about working for his father-in-law, and he is hired as general counsel. Two months into Carter's new post, one of his closest friends, who also runs the fund in which the firm is most heavily invested, takes a header off the Tappan Zee Bridge. Turns out the feds were closing in. Now Paul has to answer for the millions of dollars that have vanished from the fund, which turns out to have been nothing more than a Ponzi scheme. Alger knows the ins and outs of both Wall Street and an upscale NYC lifestyle, nailing all the details, from the plush, hushed atmosphere of high-end law firms to the right tennis togs for a casual weekend in the Hamptons. Delicious reading."