cover image The Protg

The Protg

Stephen Frey, . . Ballantine, $24.95 (313pp) ISBN 978-0-345-48058-3

Christian Gillette's second outing in financial thrillerland finds Chris heading Manhattan-based investment firm Everest Capitol after his boss was murdered in the series debut, The Chairman . Everest is a huge success, as is Chris, though disaster looms from early on as Chris's right-hand-man, David Wright (the title protégé), has accidentally killed a prostitute in the course of a heavy session: "He kept replaying that awful scene in the bondage chamber in his mind. His foot hitting the block of wood, the awful sound of her neck snapping like a brand new Ticonderoga pencil between two thumbs." As the chapters march by, readers will find themselves swamped with questions: Why do government spies want to involve Chris in a secret nanotechnology scheme? What really happened when his father died in a plane crash? Will the Mafia infiltrate Chris's new Las Vegas NFL franchise operation? Will his romance with superstar pop singer Faith Cassidy fail? And many, far too many, more, though it is to Frey's credit that he is able to hold all these plots together and knit the tangled threads into coherence by the action-packed end. Multibillion-dollar deals and snappy financial jargon help fill things out, but readers looking for more than a quick payoff will have to seek gratification elsewhere. (On sale Dec. 27)