Wednesday, 3 April 2013

The Dark Pool by J.E Fishman – Book Review

Publisher’s write-up:

‘Three men's lives on a knife's edge...

Shoog Clay: The nation's winningest inner-city high school football coach resists pressure to move up to the college level because his kids in the Bronx mean everything to him. But more powerful people won't take no for an answer.

Antwon Meeps: One day Harriet Tubman High School's star running back is a shoe-in for a college scholarship. The next day he's accused of a rape he didn't commit, his life begins unraveling, and he doesn't know how to stop it.

The Mean: This incognito Greenwich hedge fund manager is so rich he keeps a giant sea creature as his pet. But a risky investment threatens to ruin him, and a stubborn high school football coach holds the key to his redemption.

Soon a tragic hanging in the school gymnasium will lay bare a secret force that none of these men understands. In a "dark pool" marketplace, insatiable Wall Street players have wagered everything on certain real-world outcomes. When fortunes hang in the balance, financiers cloaked in anonymity won't hesitate to pay off their claims with the blood of others.’

The Dark Pool is a thriller novel written by J.E Fishman featuring a young sportsman, his coach and an anonymous hedge fund manager. The young sportsman, Antwon Meeps, a student at Harriet Tubman School in Bronx, NY, at the start of the story is at Somerset Lake, Georgia, spending his Christmas Holidays with his aunt and cousin. Along with his cousin’s friends, Antwon too, is accused of rape, something to which he was merely an eyewitness and he is bailed out of Georgia by a lawyer – for a consideration that Antwon would help him on his demand and he has no idea what he is getting into. On the other side, there is Jonathan ‘Shoog’ Clay, an American football coach at Harriet Tubman School and he sees his pupils as his own children. But, he is offered a job to coach a college team, and the ones who have made the job offer are not willing to appreciate his perseverance. Things turn upside down, when a student, a member of Clay’s team, is found hanging causing serious problems for both, Antwon and Shoog. And the hedge fund manager, The Mean, is somehow connected to all these events is facing the risk of losing his fortune.

I liked the diversity in the plot, involving a kid, whose dreams are shattered, a coach who’d do anything to save the kid and the investors in the Dark Pool, who are concerned only about one end, that is, an increase in their wealth and for which, they’re willing to take any dire step. The pace was another aspect for which it ought to be appreciated, with the author getting to the crux of the plot from the very first page, till the end, without any sub-plot. The author also did an excellent job in character building, and how, each one of it undergoes a significant change, as the events unfold. Initially, I was worried a little, for a reason that I had no idea about American Football and if this had been based on the sport, I’d have surely close the book halfway but here, it is only a story on events surrounding the two who are involved in the sport. The only thing one would probably miss is the ability to understand the sport analogies of Shoog Clay, and someone who follows the sport might enjoy it (or might not, I’m not sure).

The only problem I had with this book was that I found Antwon’s escape from the prison in Georgia was flawed – however influential the lawyer who came to his rescue might have been, this case was supposedly reported in the papers and how, one of the accused assailants could just walk out, scot free. Moreover, those characters were completely ignored after Antwon’s escape – the author could have added a line in the epilogue on what happened to that case. One could also have a contrary opinion that the entire Georgian episode was just meant to destroy Antwon’s dreams of becoming the first person in his family to go to a college, although, I personally don’t subscribe to this view.

To conclude the review, I enjoyed the mix of this novel, where lives of two ordinary people are turned upside down in a matter of weeks in a matter of weeks, by rich and influential people in the financial circle. Being a student of finance myself, I particularly enjoyed the financial aspect of it. The most important aspect of any thriller novel, in my opinion is the end, and I felt it was satisfactory, except where the Georgian episode didn’t have a proper closure. Considering the plot, pace, the characters and the end, I’d award this book a rating of eight.

Rating – 8/10

Have a nice day,

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