Thursday, June 14, 2012

A Fatal Debt by John Gapper

The blurb:
When Ben Cowper, a young psychiatrist, first meets Harry Shapiro, the former chief executive of a failed Wall Street bank, he diagnoses him as suicidally depressed and admits him to hospital for observation. Then pressure is brought by his superiors to discharge Harry, and Ben is slowly drawn into Shapiro’s gilded world in Manhattan and East Hampton where nothing is what it first seems. After a colleague of Harry's takes his own life and revelations of fraud follow, Ben realizes he has made a terrible error that threatens both his career and his life.

I couldn't put down  A Fatal Debt Fortunately, I started the book while traveling to Boston so I had nearly 4 hours of uninterrupted reading.

John Gapper gives us a smart, ambitious and sympathetic lead character/amateur sleuth in Dr. Ben Cowper.  Ben is on duty when Harry Shapiro, the man donated the funds and for whom a hospital wing at New York-Episcopal is named, arrives at the hospital.  Ben's initial treatment of Harry makes and impression but it is still a surprise when billionaire Harry Shapiro bypasses the department head and specifically requests for Ben.   The novel captures the nuances of hospital and departmental politics from the point of view of a promising but junior member of staff.  These passages particularly resonated with me.

A Fatal Debt is a thriller where the action comes from complex financial transactions in the world of investment banking and Wall Street.  The drama comes from divided loyalties, upended friendships, and the upheaval of ordinary lives.  John Gapper takes us to these new landscapes and private worlds full of white collar crime - and on a complex and engrossing read

ISBN-10: 0345527895 Hardcover $26.00
Publisher: Ballantine Books (June 26, 2012), 288 pages.
Review copy courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley.

About the Author:
John Gapper is chief business commentator and an associate editor of the Financial Times. He writes a weekly column on business and finance, focusing on the media and technology industries and innovation. He also writes editorial and features on a range of business topics. He has written extensively on Wall Street and the financial crisis; the troubles of the US auto industry; the future of digital media  and entertainment; innovation and venture capital; PR crises such as the BP oil spill; and software and open source.
John is based in the New York, where he helps to lead the FT's  expansion in the US. He was formerly comment page editor of the FT, and was in charge of introducing and editing the paper’s award-winning op-ed page.
John lives in Brooklyn, New York with his wife, Rosie Dastgir, the writer and author of A Small Fortune (Penguin) and their two daughters.

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