cover image The Vulture Fund: 8

The Vulture Fund: 8

Stephen Frey. Dutton Books, $23.95 (384pp) ISBN 978-0-525-93986-3

More than one reviewer of his first novel (The Takeover) dubbed investment banker Frey the Grisham of financial thrillers. The comparison holds for Frey's second: the characters clatter like wooden puppets, and the prose wobbles between the serviceable and the silly, but the man can tell one exciting story nonetheless. Hotshot New York investment banker Mace McLain is recruited by his senior partner, Lewis Webster, to establish a $2 billion ""vulture fund"" that will buy great chunks of Manhattan properties in what Webster insists will be an inevitable real estate bust. Mace's immediate boss in the venture will be Kathleen (Leeny) Hunt, smart, beautiful and predatory. Meanwhile, the country's vice president, a Democrat, is locked in a fierce struggle with the CIA director, who's the presumptive GOP presidential nominee. Frey lets on that one of the two has suborned Webster and Leeny into working a scheme (involving professional terrorists and murder) that will shatter the New York real estate market and generate vast campaign funds. Most readers will easily figure out who Mr. Big is, but the fun here--and there's plenty of it--isn't in solving a mystery. It's in seeing a smart and tough minnow like Mace tossed into a shark tank and only to swim his way out, gills puffing and tail flashing. 150,000 first printing; major ad/promo; film rights optioned by Paramount and Neufeld/Rehme; author tour. (Aug.)