What would you do if you discovered someone you used to look up to was doing something shady? Talk to him about it or try to prove it to others behind his back? At what point can you honestly say it’s better to keep silent than to tell others about what you feel is going on? Loyalty is a big word in our society: loyalty to others, loyalty to our own ethics, and loyalty to societal norms. But what’s really important is looking out for number one. At least that’s the dilemma behind James Conway’s The Last Trade.
I picked up this book with absolutely no preconceived notions. All I knew was that it had something to do with the stock market, with the numbers that make it go around. Last year I read another book about stocks and bonds, called Bond Girl, by Erin Duffy, and I enjoyed it immensely, so I figured “Why not?” with this one. I’m glad I gave it a chance.
Drew Havens used his genius with numbers and predictive quantifying to make his boss a multi-billionaire when he figured out the huge crash of 2007 ahead of time. They all made out like bandits, but then he starts to question the practices of The Rising hedge fund where he works. The book takes place in 2011 after he realizes something is off and decides to do some digging. The digging leads him to a series of deaths he becomes intent on stopping.
The problem is that Drew Havens is wanted for murder, so finding the answers he seeks takes a bit of stealth as well, and for a numbers guy that is a bit of a problem. That is in fact when the novel really begins to take off, when he’s on the run and searching for answers. I really enjoyed watching the decisions he made on the spur of the moment, the confrontations, and the interactions with people he trusts and others that he doesn’t.
Protagonist number two is Cara Sobieski, a federal agent who deals with trader fraud and the like, so she’s on the scent of these misdeeds like a pit bull on a steak. But she has some serious personal issues that threaten to derail her before she can finish the job. If I enjoyed watching Drew Havens make decisions, I held my breath every time Cara Sobieski went one way instead of another. In fact, I found myself talking to her in my head, pleading with her to turn around, to go another way, or to trust no one.
But the book finds its footing in the suspense created by a dead man’s final puzzle. The trick as a reader is to follow the clues before our protagonists figure them out, then to pat ourselves on the back for accomplishing the feat, or kicking ourselves in the shin for being dumb enough to fall for something so obvious. Regardless of the outcome, however, it’s a thrilling ride that has a satisfying ending that stays true to the characters and to the story.
And that’s all that you can ask, right? I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys solving mysteries, and who has an open mind when reading novels or when looking at the world in general. You won’t be disappointed.
I give the book FIVE stars.