Hailed as "the John Grisham of Wall Street" by the New York Times, Christopher Reich returns to the world he knows so well--the dangerous, dazzling world of high finance and international intrigue. In this ingeniously crafted thriller, the bestselling author of Numbered Account and The First Billion introduces his most complex and engaging hero yet: forensic accountant Adam Chapel--and paints a frightening scenario where terrorism is big business and money is the ultimate weapon of war…The explosion that shatters the smart Parisian apartment reverberates around the globe. In an instant, a suspected terrorist is dead and half a million dollars has vanished. Within days, the CIA is certain it has found a connection between the dead man and a planned terrorist attack on U.S. soil. Determined to avert another 9/11, they have assembled an elite counterterrorist task force, code name: Blood Money
Reich (The Numbered Account; The Runner; The First Billion) returns to the stratospheric heights of international finance in this complicated novel of terrorist intrigue. Mild-mannered forensic accountant Adam Chapel revels in his first field mission, as he follows the tangled trail of a terrorist money transfer. Just as he's set to make an arrest, the suspect detonates a bomb that kills four of Chapel's fellow investigators. Injured in the blast but undeterred, Chapel teams up with Sarah Churchill, a beautiful spy of uncertain affiliation, to hunt down the bomber's secret organization. The shadowy association called the Hijira is funded in part by the elusive genius financier Marc Gabriel, who is engaged in funneling vast sums of money through legitimate and clandestine financial markets to fund Hijira's master plan to destroy the very heart of the American political establishment. Reich's numerous characters can be difficult to keep straight, as can the acronymic organizations they belong to, leading to sentences on the order of: "Run the name through the CBRS. Check for SARs and CTRs" and "OFAC called the White House. The White House called FTAT to confirm that OFAC's IEEPA request was legit...." Readers may scratch their heads in confusion as they wade through the alphabet soup, but those who persevere will receive an advanced education in the secret world of financial deviltry on the grandest of scales. Reich has a lot of fascinating financial lore to pass along, all of which goes down easily as the fast-paced plotting and relentless action speed the reader over the bumpy parts and into a satisfyingly gripping and informative read. (Aug. 26) Forecast: Reich, whose years of work in a Swiss bank lend his financial thrillers real-world authenticity, has received lackluster reviews since his debut novel, The Numbered Account. Look for this one to do better than his last several outings, though bestseller status is still uncertain. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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December 31, 2002
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Excerpt from The Devil's Banker by Christopher Reich
IT IS DIFFICULT TO WALK CASUALLY WITH FIVE HUNDRED thousand dollars taped to your belly. More difficult still when any of the men brushing past you would gladly slit your throat were they to suspect the king ' s ransom you carried.
The man who had chosen the warrior ' s name Abu Sayeed snaked through the alleys of the Smugglers ' Bazaar, careful to check his impatient step. He was close now, but he could not hurry. To hurry invited attention. And attention meant trouble he could not afford.
Around him, shopkeepers leaned in open doorways, smoking cigarettes and sipping cups of tea. He could sense their eyes upon him as they studied his bearing, gauging its strength, deciding whether he was a predator or prey. Instinctively, he stood straighter and thrust his chin forward. But all the while he kept his pace relaxed, his face slack, even as the claws dug into him.
The money was divided into fifty packets, each containing ten thousand dollars, each wrapped and waterproofed in transparent plastic. The packets had sharp, cruel corners that chafed and cut his flesh. He had been traveling for thirty-six hours. His chest and back were flayed as if scored by a cat-o ' -nine tails. Only by thinking of the operation was he able to continue. The prospect of the infidels ' death invigorated him with the strength of the Pharaoh ' s army.
At four p.m., the summer sun was at its fiercest. Dust devils arose on the dusty road, swirled lazily, then spun themselves out. After a brief lull, the bazaar was rousing itself to life. Beneath fluorescent lights, shelves sagged with cartons of Dunhill cigarettes, Toshiba laptops, and Paco Rabanne cologne, all brought overland from Afghanistan to avoid duty and tax. Other windows displayed less mundane goods: Kalashnikov rifles, Colt pistols, and Claymore mines. Hashish, heroin, even human chattel could be had at the right address. If there was a free market on earth, mused Sayeed, it was here on the western outskirts of Peshawar, the gateway to the Khyber Pass.
Stopping to purchase a cube of diced sugarcane, he cast his gaze behind him. His depthless black eyes scoured the street, checking for the misplaced face, the averted gaze, the anxious dawdler. So close, he must keep his senses keen. He did not believe that the crusaders knew his identity. Still, he must be cautious. Members of the American Special Forces infested Peshawar as lice infest a beast. Most were easy to spot, with their Oakley sunglasses, Casio watches, and desert boots. A few even dared enter the bazaar, where foreigners were not welcome and Pakistani law held no sway.
The thought of the Americans brought a contemptuous smile to his lips. Soon they would learn that they could not run. The fire was coming. It would burn them in their heartland. It would scald them from within.
And for a moment, the claws loosened their grip. The pain subsided, and he basked in the glow of destruction.
Satisfied his trail was clean, Sayeed spat out the sinewy cane and crossed the narrow road. To look at, he was no different from any of the thousands of souls who eked out an existence trafficking the porous border that separated Pakistan from Afghanistan. His shalwar kameez, the baggy shirt and trousers that made up the local dress, was filthy and stiff with dried sweat; his black headdress smothered with red alkali dust. His beard belonged to the most fervent of believers, as did the AK-47 he carried slung over a shoulder and the bejeweled dagger strapped to his calf.