cover image SILENT PARTNER


Stephen Frey, . . Ballantine, $24.95 (320pp) ISBN 978-0-345-44326-7

Veteran financial thriller writer Frey (Trust Fund; Day Trader; etc.) returns with another novel of greed and intrigue set in the back corridors of finance. Angela Day, an up-from-the-trailer-park young executive on the fast track at Sumter Bank in Richmond, Va., is summoned to a Tetons hideaway, lair of the reclusive and powerful moneyman Jake Lawrence. Lawrence wants Day to help him take over Sumter Bank and oust Day's boss, chairman Bob Dudley. There is no love lost between Day and the despicable racist Dudley, who schemes to keep blacks out of white neighborhoods by denying them loans; helping Lawrence would mean lots of money and a golden career for Day. But it also puts her life in danger, and she finds herself carelessly used as a pawn by both men. Toss in a muckraking black reporter friend of Day's, whose presence stirs her guilt over the horrific death of a black schoolmate at a college frat party, and a cowboyish bodyguard (complete with ten-gallon hat and pocket flask), and you have the makings of a television movie. Frey is best describing the internecine workings of financial institutions and those who manipulate them, but it's hard to spin an exciting yarn out of mortgage applications, especially when a stereotyped cast of hopeful black homeowners is pitted against nasty Southern good ol' boys. Frey's unremarkable prose ("How could humans be so awful? Why couldn't they just get along?") doesn't help. (Jan.)