Thursday, July 19, 2012

Murder in the World of Investment Banking: A Fatal Debt by John Gapper


Dr. Ben Cowper, an attending psychiatrist, has a dilemma. He admitted Harry Shapiro to the Episcopal Hospital psychiatric ward because he believed the ex-CEO of Seligman Brothers, an investment bank, was contemplating suicide. Harry and his wife, Nora, are a major hospital donors. When Harry wants to be released Ben's boss forces him to agree although he's not sure Harry isn't still a danger to himself. Nora promises to hide Harry's gun, and Ben tries to convince himself that it's a good resolution until the new CEO of Seligman Brothers, the man who forced Harry out, is found dead on the Shapiro's living room floor.

The plot is timely with all the problems experienced by Wall Street Banks in 2008, but the pace is very slow. Ben is not a charismatic protagonist. He makes bad decisions then agonizes over them. He wants to respect patient confidentiality, but goes chasing off trying to be an investigator and breaks the rules about dealing with patients and their families. His constant internal agonizing makes the story drag. I felt it would have been a better mystery with less psychiatry and more investment banking.

I didn't enjoy the book. The plot is good, but the characters are poorly drawn and generally uninteresting. As a mystery, it failed.

I reviewed this book as part of the Amazon Vine Program.