Welcome to Murder by the Book's blog about what we've read recently. You can find our website at www.mbtb.com.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Graveland by Alan Glynn ($16)

Graveland is apparently the third in a loosely related series by Irish author Alan Glynn. It's set in the U.S. and concerns the financial world. Did I miss something by not reading the other two books (Winterland and Bloodland) first? Probably. The book seemed disjointed as a standalone.

Ellen Dorsey is a prickly journalist of lengthy magazine articles. Craig Howley is the second-in-command of a private equity firm. Frank Bishop used to be an architect and now works as the manager of an electronics store. Their paths intertwine when the head of a big investment bank and the CEO of a hedge fund are murdered. Persons unknown apparently are making a statement on behalf of the other 98%.

It felt as though the book was at an end about halfway through. There's a stand-off with the people who committed the murders. Although their cause and beliefs are at the crux of the crimes, they are given short shrift as characters and their incoherent manifesto is a fair throwaway. The second half of the book finally brings to the forefront what the three main characters have to do with each other.

There were many plot twists that were quite clever, but there were a lot of financial terms thrown around to retard the narrative pace. Not that I wanted an explanation, truncated or extended, academic or prosaic. There were just a heck of a lot of terms, phrases, coughing up of business hairballs.

At one point, Ellen Dorsey thinks:

"In discussing stuff like fractional reserve banking, the creation of the Fed, the Glass-Steagall Act, Keynes, the Chicago School, subprime, securitization, the bailouts, there'll be an initial hint of reasonableness, a striving for clarity -- for the holy grail of a coherent point -- but sooner or later, and without fail, each contribution will descend into ambiguity, internal contradiction, and ultimately gibberish."

Ironically, at times I just wanted clarity, too.

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