cover image Illegal Holdings: A Valentin Vermeulen Thriller

Illegal Holdings: A Valentin Vermeulen Thriller

Michael Niemann. Coffeetown, $14.95 trade paper (240p) ISBN 978-1-60381-591-8

Niemann’s well-plotted third Valentin Vermeulen thriller (after 2017’s Illicit Trade) takes the U.N. investigator with a penchant for getting into trouble to Maputo, Mozambique, where he looks into a fraud case. Global Alternatives, a Swiss foundation set up by hedge-fund billionaire Vincent Portallis, wired $5 million to Nossa Terra, a development agency, but the money has gone missing. Aisa Simango, the head of Nossa Terra, and her small staff have no explanation, nor does Global’s Maputo director or the local bank manager who handled the electronic transfer. In Vermeulen’s dogged attempt to figure out the connections between the missing money, Nossa Terra’s efforts to supply land to farmers, and the role of Portallis, Vermeulen gets help from his long-distance lover, freelance journalist Tessa Bishonga and a resourceful, sword-wielding young vagabond calling himself KillBill. Niemann provides interesting insights into U.N. bureaucracy, developing countries, and global economics as he demonstrates once again the difference that an honest man can make. (Mar.)