Wednesday, September 21, 2011
Other People's Money by Justin Cartwright
In a world still uneasy after the financial turmoil of 2008, Justin Cartwright puts a human face on the dishonesties and misdeeds of the bankers who imperiled us. Tubal and Co. is a small, privately owned bank in England. As the company's longtime leader, Sir Harry Tubal, slips into senility, his son Julian takes over the reins-and not all is well. The company's hedge fund now owns innumerable toxic assets, and Julian fears what will happen when their real value is discovered.
Artair Macleod, an actor manager whose ex-wife, Fleur, was all but stolen by Sir Harry, discovers that his company's monthly grant has not been paid by Tubal. Getting no answers from Julian, he goes to the local press, and an eager young reporter begins asking questions. Bit by bit, the reporter discovers that the grant money is in fact a payoff from Fleur, written off by the bank as a charitable donation, and a scandal breaks. Julian's temperament and judgment prove a bad fit for the economic forces of the era, and the family business plunges into chaos as he tries to hide the losses and massage the balance sheet.
This novel tells the tale of a family, a banking family, caught in the web of a pending financial collapse. At heart this is a family drama rather than a deep look at the ills that helped cause the recent financial crisis. An incapacitated father, a son trying to stave off the collapse, a stepmother trying to rediscover her lost youth, a young journalist trying to make her mark, an aging editor desperate for one last story- all make this character-driven story a delight to read. The writing is magnificent, the characters finely drawn, and the situation realistic; this novel is a tuly excellent read. Highly recommended work of literary fiction.