Mysterious Book Report No. 482

by John Dwaine McKenna

Undermoney, (Scribner, $30.00, 484 pages, ISBN 978-1-9821-5602-2), by Jay Newman, is a complex, fascinating and frightening novel of politics, warped patriotism, ambition and ultra amounts of wealth and money by a writer who is infinitely familiar with the subject because he’s spent 45 years swimming among the sharks of high finance, hedge funds and edgy government officials.

The word “undermoney” comes from the Japanese.  It means The currency of corruption.  It’s first cousin to blood money.

The story begins in the Jordanian desert with the theft of 2.6 billion dollars in cash by a rogue group of American Special Forces who’re operating under the auspices of a Major General named Tommy Taylor.  The purpose of the heist is to provide seed money for a presidential contender named Ben Corn.  He’s a sitting Senator from Nebraska and a former member of their elite group of warfighters.  But the problem is, they need to launder the money in order to be able to use it.  They hide the pallet of consecutively numbered hundred dollar bills in a cave in France for two and a-half years while laying that ground work for their operation.  Their plan is to take over the largest hedge fund in America.  It’s called Industrial Strategies,  and run by a man named  Elias Vickers . . . a flat-out sociopath . . . a man who’ll let nothing . . . and nothing, means nothing is too vile, disgusting or murderous to stand in the way of making evermore money for himself.  Those who know Vickers fear and despise him.  But there’s other players as well, who come in all shapes and sizes and nationalities, some of whom have connections to the highest levels of the Kremlin.  They’re interested in Vickers and his IS Company too—and they’re just as ruthless, amoral and blood-soaked as he is.

The novel is stuffed full of financial terms and insights into hedge funds, as well as an illumination of the mysteries of international business deals.  It’s both fascinating and frightening because there’s so much truth packed into a complex, electrifying and intense thriller.  It’s a fictional story that illuminates one of the most corrosive aspects of modern life: ruthless sociopaths with unlimited amounts of cash and no boundaries.  It’s true in large measure . . . and that’s what makes Undermoney so damn scary!!


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