Source: Review copy
Publication: 6 August 2020 from Grove Press
Corporate lawyer Elizabeth Carlyle is under pressure. Her prestigious New York law firm is working on a high-stakes case, defending a prominent bank accused of fraud. When Elizabeth gets the news that one of her junior associates has lost his phone – and the secret documents that were on it – she needs help. Badly.
Enter ex-CIA officer Valencia Walker, a high-priced fixer who gets called in when wealthy people, corporations and governments need their problems solved discreetly. But things get complicated when the missing phone is retrieved: somebody has already copied the documents and blackmail is underway.
Mysterious leaks to the press and an unlikely suicide further complicate the situation. With billions of dollars on the line, Elizabeth and Valencia must outmanoeuvre their tormentors, all the while keeping their hands clean.
I really enjoyed this New York set thriller which attention grabbed from the very first page and never let go. Chris Cowey is a lawyer at the very prestigious law firm of Carlyle, Driscoll and Hathaway. The firm is acting on behalf of the Calcott Bank in a big and financially very worthwhile action against another bank. The litigation has come about because both sides are arguing over whose fault it was that their planned merger did not succeed.
Elizabeth Carlyle, Senior Partner, is in charge of the case and so when it transpires that junior lawyer Chris Cowey has had his phone pick-pocketed and that it contained sensitive documents relating to the trial, Elizabeth has to get those documents back. She knows it is imperative to ensure they don’t fall into the hands of their client’s adversaries, so she brings in a troubleshooter – Valencia Walker.
Valencia is ex-CIA and one of the best fixers out there. But although Valencia has the staff and the know- how to figure out who took the phone and how to track it down, things are not quite as straightforward as they at first appeared.
In a fast moving and complex thriller, Hoffman leads us on a tangled journey that goes from street thieves to mid-level organised crime to the Russian mafia and even a black-ops set up. As the vital documents change hands, and the price of their keeps going up, Elizabeth see her future crumbling and Valencia has to use all her resources to work out who has them and what they intend to do with them.
It’s great to read a financial thriller with two strong female protagonists who lead from the front and whose resourcefulness and intelligence is unquestionable. What starts as a story about a mobile phone turns out to be something altogether much bigger and the spider’s web that Valencia needs to negotiate is threaded around some unexpected places. Full of intrigue and deft use of smoke and mirrors, Hoffman shows us that there are all too plausible connections between corporate and criminal America and with billions of dollars on the line, the stakes are so high that for Elizabeth and Valencia nothing is off limits. The trick is to make sure that at the end, their hands are clean.
Verdict: A strong and intelligent thriller with a fast pace and an intriguing and diverse set of characters, fronted by two powerful female players. The action is intense and Hoffman’s New York legal and financial setting is just right for this well-crafted and believable thriller.
Patrick Hoffman is a writer and private investigator based in Brooklyn, NY. His first book, THE WHITE VAN, was a finalist for the Crime Writers’ Association Ian Fleming Steel Dagger Award and was named a Wall Street Journal and San Francisco Chronicle Best Book of the Year. His highly anticipated follow-up, EVERY MAN A MENACE, came out in 2016, and was again named one of the ten best of the year by the Wall Street Journal.
Photo: DeSean McClinton-Holland