Trading Reality

Michael Ridpath, Author
Michael Ridpath, Author HarperCollins Publishers $25 (389p) ISBN 978-0-06-017629-7
Reviewed on: 03/01/1999
Release date: 03/01/1999
Mass Market Paperbound - 448 pages - 978-0-06-109636-5
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-0-694-51794-7
Hardcover - 390 pages - 978-0-434-00258-0
Hardcover - 453 pages - 978-0-7493-2130-7
Hardcover - 978-1-86021-870-5
Hardcover - 453 pages - 978-0-09-941675-3
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High tech and high finance make a natural pair, in real life and now in fiction thanks to Ridpath (Free to Trade), whose second novel features desperate characters trading in reality of the virtual kind. Narrator Mark Fairfax, a London bond trader, discovers that his brother Richard has been murdered in Scotland just as Richard's firm, FairSystems, was on the verge of a fundamental breakthrough in virtual reality (VR) technology. As Mark takes charge of FairSystems and tries to fulfill his brother's dreams, it becomes increasingly obvious that the murder has something to do with the breakthrough--and that Richard was not the only victim. Mark has his hands full trying to learn his way around VR while fending off hostile takeovers, cash-flow crises, terrorists and attempts on his life. He also has to deal with being dumped by one lover and finding a new one. Ridpath's pacing is brisk, and his use of largely Scottish settings is a welcome change from the usual American suspense backdrop. His characters are painted in broad strokes but, then, the thrills here lie as much in carefully thought out financial and digital tools as in the humans who wield them. Drawing on classic thriller elements, Ridpath has written a clever, if not very original, story with a trendy spin and a satisfying conclusion that should have readers buying up copies as fast as you can say ""Bill Gates."" $50,000 ad/promo; UK, translation, first serial, dramatic rights: Writer's House. (Mar.)
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