cover image The Last Trade

The Last Trade

James Conway. Dutton, $26.95 (416p) ISBN 978-0-525-95282-4

Hedge fund manager Rick Salvado smacks of villainy from page one of the pseudonymous Conway’s impressive first thriller. Thanks to the work of his 28-year-old “stat-arb quant,” good guy Drew Havens, Salvado profited immensely when the housing bubble burst in 2008, as did Havens. But when the action opens in October 2011, Havens, who’s uncertain about his career choice, worries about the possibly dangerous direction the fund is taking, based on cryptic messages about strange trading activity from his protégé, Danny Weiss. When the bodies begin to fall, starting with a trader in Hong Kong, Cara Sobieski, an agent of the Terrorism and Financial Intelligence task force, gets on the case. Sobieski, the financial world equivalent of Lisbeth Salander, makes a more compelling hero than the brilliant but often clueless Havens. While Conway, billed as “a hedge fund insider,” at times bogs down in exposition, he offers a compulsively readable look into the arcane world of high finance. Agent: David Gernert, the Gernert Company. (June)