I was off the grid for most of the long weekend, which allowed me to curl up with a pulpy thriller for the first time in many, many years. I’m by no means an expert on the genre, but if you’re a reader of this blog and you like such things then there’s a good chance that Dead Bankers, a novel by Philip Delves Broughton, might be exactly for you; there’s a paperback version here if you don’t have a Kindle.
The thing that makes this book so great to read right now is not the fact that it’s full of the usual thriller ingredients — glamorous protagonists, jet-set lifestyles, money and sex and death and all that. Rather, it’s the thrill of seeing the whole financial crisis fictionalized, with thinly-veiled real-world figures (Hank Paulson, Steve Schwarzman, Nat Rothschild, Chris Hohn, Henry Kravis, Roman Abramovich) being caught up in intrigue and murder and blackmail for stakes in the billions of dollars. I don’t want to give too much away, but suffice to say that no matter how bad your view of these figures is right now, the chances are that Broughton’s is much, much worse. And that the walk-on role given Schwarzman’s crab claws is particularly delicious.
If anything, the problem with this book is that it’s almost got too much real-world material in it: it’s harder to forgive a couple of the more extreme financial contrivances when you know that the author went to Harvard Business School and knows his material so well. But there’s no doubt that the book is fun to read and extremely timely. If you’ve ever fantasized about what would happen if the people who helped create the global financial crisis started getting serially murdered, you should give this book a go.