Mortal Bonds by Michael Sears
ISBN-10: 0399158677 - Hardcover $26.95
Publisher: Putnam Adult; First Edition edition (October 1, 2013), 352 pages.
Review copy courtesy of the publisher and Amazon Vine Reviewers Program.
William von Becker ran one of the largest privately held investment banks in North America, until the bottom fell out, and the whole edifice was demonstrated to be a fraud.
After von Becker dies in prison, financial investigator Jason Stafford is hired by his family. There is still a lot of missing money out there, he’s told, and they want Stafford to find it before the Feds do—and certain other parties, some of whom are nowhere near as scrupulous in their methods. Bad things start happening to the people Stafford talks to. Soon bad things are happening to him as well.
Making it worse, his treacherous ex-wife has come to town, ostensibly to visit their young son. Stafford suspects there’s more to it than that, but even he has no idea how much that visit is about to change all their lives—and send him off to the next chapter of his life.
I hadn't read Michael Sears' earlier Jason Stafford novel and you needn't have had done so to lose yourself completely in Mortal Bonds.
Jason Stafford is a quant/financial genius who made a killing on Wall Street. Unfortunately, some of his money was well earned but a significant part of it came from securities fraud. After a stint in jail, he's worked to rehabilitate himself and his reputation. He's worked with the FBI and the SEC to help identify financial fraud in the past and he hires out his talents to the private sector. Corporations will call on him to find if money is being diverted and where it might be, how to prevent fraud, etc. Jason gets a call and a helicopter ride to a meeting with the matriarch of a Madoff like family. The family is publicly scorned and is the subject of civil suits, death threats and an extensive investigation by the SEC and FBI. Jason's asked to find roughly $1B which has gone missing ostensibly for the family to return to the government to rehabilitate the family name and to allow them to keep their investment business in play. His compensation will be a consulting fee of $1M per year for the rest of his life as well as an upfront payment of a reasonable sum (that will not draw the attention of Jason's creditors).
Jason's uniquely suited for the task as his skills and his network allow him to gather and evaluate information in ways not available to government investigators. So we follow him to opulent rooms in secret clubs in Manhattan, the offices of big money, to the homes of longtime and loyal employees, to private banks in Switzerland and to unexpected danger.
Fascinatingly complex, Mortal Bonds is one of the best financial thrillers I've read in a long time.
About the Author:
Michael Sears spent over twenty years on Wall Street, rising to become a managing director at Paine Webber and Jeffries & Co., before leaving the business in 2005. He lives in Sea Cliff, New York.