In his explosive debut thriller, Christopher Reich tells the harrowing story of a young man willing to risk everything--his career, his integrity, and even his life--to hunt down his father's killer. Set in the secret, labyrinthine world of Swiss banking, Numbered Account, with its detail and intelligence, could have been written only by an insider--the author himself worked at a major Swiss bank for three years. Former U.S. marine and Harvard Business School graduate Nicholas Neumann seems to have it all: a dream job, a beautiful fiance, a future bright with promise.
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 fianc e 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. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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December 01, 1998
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Excerpt from Numbered Account by Christopher Reich
It was the coldest winter in memory. For the first time since 1962 the Lake of Zurich threatened a solid freeze. Already a shelf of blue ice clung to her shores. Farther out a transparent crust floated upon the surface. The stately paddle wheel steamships that called regularly on Zurich and her prosperous environs had taken refuge at their winter harbor in Kilchberg. At ports around the lake storm lamps burned red: danger, conditions hazardous.
The last snow had fallen only two days before, yet the city's roads were immaculate. Muddy piles of frozen slush that might sully the sidewalks of other urban centers had been removed. Recalcitrant patches of ice likewise. Even the rock salt and gravel spread to hasten their decomposition had been neatly swept up.
In any other year, the continuing bout of record low temperatures and unending snowfall would be reason for spirited discussion. Many a newspaper column would be devoted to a thorough tallying of the economic gains and losses to the country. To her agriculture and livestock--losers, as thousands of cows had frozen to death in low-lying barns; to her many Alpine ski resorts--all winners, and about time, after consecutive seasons of insufficient snowfall; and to her precious water table--also a winner, as experts forecast a restoration of the national aquifer after a decade of depletion. More conservative rags might even include a spiteful article pronouncing the much-feared "greenhouse effect" dead and buried.
But not this year. On this first Monday in January, no mention of the severe weather could be found anywhere on the front pages of the Neue Zrcher Zeitung, the Tages Anzeiger, or even the chronically mundane Zrcher Tagblatt. The country was struggling with something far rarer than a harsh winter: a crisis of conscience.
Signs of turmoil were not difficult to find. And Nicholas Neumann, stepping off the number thirteen tram at the Paradeplatz, immediately spotted the most prominent of them. Fifty yards ahead, along the east side of the Bahnhofstrasse, a band of men and women were gathered in front of a drab four-story building that was home to the United Swiss Bank. His destination. Most held signs, which Nick, as he preferred to be called, could read even at this distance: "Clean Up the Swiss Laundry." "Drug Money Is Blood Money." "Hitler's Bankers." Others stood with their hands shoved into their pockets, marching determinedly back and forth.