cover image Numbered Account

Numbered Account

Christopher Reich. Delacorte Press, $24.95 (496pp) ISBN 978-0-385-32017-7

The Swiss banking industry has been taking some hard hits in the headlines recently, and it doesn't fare any better in this excellent debut thriller of finance and international intrigue. When Nicholas Neumann gives up his fiancee and a fast-track job at Morgan Stanley to take a position at his late father's bank (and, if possible, to learn the truth behind his father's unsolved murder), he soon discovers that the bank is being used for political ends by a money-laundering suspect known only as the Pasha. The DEA wants the bank to help it bust the Pasha; as a result, Neumann is forced to choose between betraying his country or his employer. Perhaps to compensate for the weakness of the mystery surrounding the murder of Neumann's father, Reich throws in a smorgasbord of subplots: a hostile takeover from a rival bank; an over-the-top DEA agent who wants the Pasha taken down; an upcoming act of Middle Eastern terrorism; not to mention the Russian nuclear weapon that seems to be for sale in just about every post-Cold War thriller. To Reich's credit, he puts an original spin on the equally obligatory romantic subplot, which in this case reinforces the novel's focus on fiscal skullduggery. Despite the many story lines and a formulaic setup and finale, Reich has written a gripping tale of murder, money and immorality. Foreign rights sold in the U.K., France, Japan, Germany, Spain, Holland, Italy, Norway and Finland; $300,00 ad/promo; BDD audio; author tour. (Mar.) FYI: Reich worked at a Swiss bank for eight years.