What would you steal if you couldn't get caught?
Brad Meltzer, the author of the runaway bestseller The First Counsel, is back with another edge-of-your-seat thriller-a tale of two brothers trying to hide in a world where every step you take can be traced.
Charlie and Oliver Caruso are brothers working at an ultra-exclusive private bank when they're faced with an offer they can't refuse--three million dollars in an abandoned account no one even knows exists. Almost as soon as they take the cash, a friend is killed and the bank, the Secret Service, and a female P.I. are closing in. Now the Caruso brothers are on the run and about to uncover an explosive secret that will test their trust and forever change their lives.
This giddy fourth thriller by Meltzer (The First Counsel) mixes up banking, cyber-theft and Disney World in a fast-paced, fresh-scrubbed tale of financial adventure. Oliver Caruso is sweating out some scut work for Henry Lapidus, bigwig at Greene & Greene, a private bank so exclusive clients require $2 million just to open an account. When Oliver and his younger brother, Charlie, find proof that Lapidus has been sabotaging Oliver's career plans, the brothers conspire to rip off the lingering balance from a deceased client's account. Silly boys! Not only is the local security goon Shep (formerly Secret Service) already chiseling in on their scam, the real Secret Service thugs are on the case almost immediately. The $3 million the Carusos swiped has somehow cybernetically blossomed overnight to over $300 million. Desperate to clear their names, the boys escape to Florida, following the money to the daughter of the deceased millionaire, a former tech wizard for Disney with a secret invention everyone in this book would happily kill for. The ins and outs of how to steal money that isn't really there makes for an interesting premise if you don't think about it too much, but two flaws detract from the action. First, the narrative POV jumps too often from one character to the next and from present tense to past, making for a choppy read. Second, the novel's juvenile flavor from the PI who bluffs her way into a building by claiming to be searching for her mother's favorite sock to the hapless schoolboy dialogue ("You touched her cookies, didn't you?") loudly proclaims its Hardy Boys heritage. (Jan. 8) Forecast: Meltzer's legion of fans will jump-start sales of his latest, prompted by massive television, print, radio and transit advertising campaigns and a 12-city author tour. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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Grand Central Publishing
October 31, 2002
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Excerpt from The Millionaires by Brad Meltzer
I know where I'm going. And I know who I want to be. That's why I took this job in the first place...and why, four years later, I still put up with the clients. And their demands. And their wads of money. Most of the time, they just want to keep a low profile, which is actually the bank's specialty. Other times, they want a little...personal touch. My phone rings and I tee up the charm. "This is Oliver," I answer. "How can I help you?"
"Where the hell's your boss!?" a Southern chainsaw of a voice explodes in my ear.
"Don't piss on this, Caruso! I want my money!"
It's not until he says the word "money," that I recognize the accent. Tanner Drew, the largest developer of luxury skyscrapers in New York City and chief patriarch of the Drew Family Office. In the world of high-net-worth individuals, a family office is as high as you get. Rockefeller. Rothschild. Gates and Soros. Once hired, the family office supervises all the advisors, lawyers, and bankers who manage the family's money. Paid professionals to maximize every last penny. You don't speak to the family anymore--you speak to the office. So if the head of the clan is calling me directly ...I'm about to get some teeth pulled.
"Has the transfer not posted yet, Mr. Drew?"
"You're damn right it hasn't posted yet, smartass! Now what the hell you gonna do to make that right? Your boss promised me it'd be here by two o'clock! Two o'clock!" he screams.
"I'm sorry, sir, but Mr. Lapidus is--"
"I don't give a raccoon's ass where he is--the guy at Forbes gave me a deadline of today; I gave your boss that deadline, and now I'm giving you that deadline! What the hell else we need to discuss!?"
My mouth goes dry. Every year, the Forbes 400 lists the wealthiest 400 individuals in the United States. Last year, Tanner Drew was number 403. He wasn't pleased. So this year, he's determined to bump himself up a notch. Or three. Too bad for me, the only thing standing in his way is a forty-million-dollar transfer to his personal account that we apparently still haven't released.
"Hold on one second, sir, I..." "Don't you dare put me on h--"
I push the hold button and pray for rain. A quick extension later, I'm waiting to hear the voice of Judy Sklar, Lapidus's secretary. All I get is voicemail. With the boss at a partners retreat for the rest of the day, she's got no reason to stick around. I hang up and start again. This time, I go straight to DEFCON One. Henry Lapidus's cell phone. On the first ring, no one answers. Same on the second. By the third, all I can do is stare at the blinking red light on my phone. Tanner Drew is still waiting.
I click back to him and grab my own cell phone. "I'm just waiting for a callback from Mr. Lapidus," I explain. "Son, if you ever put me on hold again..."
Whatever he's saying, I'm not listening. Instead, my fingers snake across my cell, rapidly dialing Lapidus's pager. The moment I hear the beep, I enter my extension and add the number "1822." The ultimate emergency: 911 doubled.
"...nother one of your sorry-ass excuses-all I want to hear is that the transfer's complete!"
"I understand, sir."
"No, son. You don't."
C'mon, I beg, staring at my cell. Ring! "What time does your last transfer go out?" he barks.
"Actually, we officially close at three..." The clock on my wall says a quarter past three.