cover image Ghosts of Manhattan

Ghosts of Manhattan

Douglas Brunt. Touchstone, $24 (288p) ISBN 978-1-4516-7259-6

Former Internet exec Brunt offers up a savage, jaded, and comical depiction of freewheeling Wall Street bond traders during their precollapse heyday in this engaging debut. Nick Farmer, a 35-year-old trader at the powerful Bear Stearns financial firm, is unhappily married and growing increasingly disillusioned with his job. The pervasive after-work party culture at Bear is fueled by drugs, prostitutes, and booze, all of which have wreaked havoc on Nick’s foundering marriage. At home, his wife, Julia, is ready for kids, but Nick balks at the daunting prospect of fatherhood, thinking he’ll be a “complete bust.” Similarly on the brink is Wall Street itself, whose sobering prospects are brought to Nick’s attention by geeky analyst Fred Cook just a short while before Fred delivers the bad news to Bear’s top brass. To top it all off, Nick’s suspicion that Julia is having an affair with a sleazy colleague threatens to overwhelm him. As Nick’s life, his marriage, and the U.S. economy edge closer to meltdown, Brunt brings all the pieces together for a satisfying climax to this compulsively readable novel. Agent: Lane Zachary and Todd Shuster, Zachary Shuster Harmsworth. (Oct.)