Trader Jack, an unusual financial thriller -Reviews
Neil Behrmann has pulled off a literary coup with Trader Jack. He has crossed the frontier of financial commentary – where his penetrating analysis has earned a global reputation for exceptional quality – into the world of fiction and created a gem. This is not just a financial thriller which keeps the reader spell-bound through a roller-coaster ride in market speculation. It deeply stirs the emotions – in particular anguish for the lead character, Jack. Some may see in him the alienated outsider, but he is also a descendant of Voltaire’s naive, gullible ingénue. Jack journeys through the global financial markets, populated by villains, but he also encounters goodness
This gripping story which I couldn’t put down, is in its deepest sense a scathing indictment of shallowness, greed and hubris, interspersed with humour of the absurd. Trader Jack will bemuse and entrance all those lucky enough to find their way to it.
– Brendan Brown, author of Euro Crash and Executive Director and Chief Economist of Mitsubishi UFJ Securities International:
|Book Corner: Trader Jack|
|Jinglin Huang, New York correspondent Infovest21 (Hedge Fund Publication)|
|July 20, 2012 EST|
|Title: Trader Jack
Author: Neil Behrmann
Publisher: New End Books Ltd, London, UK
Type of book: Paperback, fiction
Price: $14.99 (print) $6.99 (e-book)
ISBN:978-0-9533843-1-0This book follows the rags-to-riches story of a teenage boy who rose from poverty following his father’s death to become a trading prodigy and celebrity hedge fund manager. He trades gold shares profitably and becomes introduced to a hedge fund manager when he is incubated as a new start-up fund. The fund does well, and subsequently he is hired by another firm as a co-manager of a commodities fund. He is ultimately arrested and charged with market manipulation of the commodity markets and separately, as a suspect in a murder case. Miner witnesses a murder of the chief executive at a Moscow bank, which was thought to be the work of the Russian mafia.Readers will enjoy the realistic description of commodities trading written by veteran financial news reporter Neil Behrmann, and will find familiar echoes of real-life SEC enforcement cases in Miner’s arrest and downfall.Miner’s fortunes are intricately linked with his romantic travails as writer weaves a complex story of intrigue, betrayal and retribution. The reader is asked to wonder if Miner is a sympathetic figure subject to forces beyond his control or a destructive psychopath who was complicit in his fate. A truly compelling read.
This is quite a remarkable book. As you get into it, it becomes ‘unputdownable’. One wants to know where it is going. A very strong plot and very good characterisations. Some of the financial ins and outs are above my head, but that does not detract from the book’s appeal. For the financially literate, the skulduggery in the jungle will be fascinating. What a mix of people and sub-plots and yet it hangs together. Bravo!! I see this is going to be a series. Very good idea. The Americans and Canadians do this sort of thing very well – always the same central character. It’s a formula that works. As a reader of these novels may I offer a couple of tips: Jack is still at the blundering stage, sensing his way through the money jungle, but he is not yet the sure-footed character he should be. Actually, he has not developed any ethics yet. This won’t do at all. He must be an immediate judge of character, which means he can’t be smitten by untrustworthy girls. Also, writing that nasty letter to his benefactor, under pressure from the awful girl he is pursuing, would be out of keeping with Jack’s essential decency! Not only must jack have clear ethics, but he can’t have partners who land him in prison. In behaviour, skills, relationships, he has to be perfect (even if unrealistically so). People want a hero. If he will be setting off now in pursuit of diamond crooks it will be easy to reshape him
– Stanley Uys former London Editor, Rand Daily Mail and contributor to the Guardian, Observer, BBC and others.
I have just finished Trader Jack and can only say that I more than enjoyed reading it. I had been struck down by a nasty virus and had to spend my Xmas holidays predominantly in bed. The thriller helped more than any other medicine to prevent me from slumping into morose suffering. (In any case, when fever struck, it was the prospect of learning more about Trader Jack which mobilized forces to fight back.)
Raymond Chandler created Philip Marlow, Dashiell Hammett, Sam Spade, and James M.Cain let his protagonists tell their stories from their own personal perspective as “I”. In my mind I added the book very quickly to this tradition of what at the time was coined “pulp fiction” and has become by now a highly appreciated genre of literary activity, belonging to the canons of university studies and understood as an important segment of modern culture.
I was very impressed by Neil Behrmann’s skill in unfolding the plot without confusing or overloading the reader, and there is tension in it which never gets lost, like in a good piece of music. The end is masterly and the idea of anchoring the whole account inside a “psychiatric” prison situation just wonderful and totally convincing.
Initially, I was not sure about Trader Jack’s use of language but the more I advanced the more I thought that the author let him have his very personal way of speaking and if this is the case, all my reservations about how he sometimes describes activities like eating, drinking, walking, speaking or making love in a kind of “crude” way, lose weight and importance.
What else can I say but that I am very curious how Jack will develop and get on with the Russian mafia, his own personal life and some more deep insights into the machinations of hedge funds and brokers and banks on the verge of criminality. I do hope that Trader Jack finds its way also into the Airport bookshelves and establishers itself as a household name for excitement,entertainment, fascinating information anda truly good read and real fun.
Of course, Trader Jack cries out for Leicester Square neon light block-buster movie exposure or to American style TV series. Trader Jack has sequels built in and this makes him even more interesting. —CH, psychoanalyst and lecturer, based in Switzerland.
I have just finished, and thoroughly enjoyed Trader Jack. I was very absorbed by the characters. Living in GoldersGreen, I liked the fact I could relate to places mentioned, restaurants, and parts of Hampstead Heath.
I have worked in the city myself (well, a city job, but in the west end) as a crude oil broker so found I could relate to the elements of the book (though on a much smaller scale!). I thoroughly enjoyed the vivid descriptions and will be looking forward to the sequel!
I have recommended it to my colleagues and wish you much success!
5.0 out of 5 stars Waiting for the film…., 13 Dec 2011
Books that I take on holiday usually take a long time to read. Not this one! As if by magic, I immediately became Trader Jack: ‘This was my story. Jazz and I were no strangers. In next to no time I lost reality, the real me, and here I was, locked up having lived through a life of extraordinary activity, knowing times of abject poverty, discovering a world of wealth and intrigue, skipping my maturing years in exchange for adventure beyond my wildest dreams, experiencing acceptance and rejection, friendship, jealousy, trust and scheming, learning to handle wealth and success, disaster and flop, and relating it all from my cell, but waiting alongside those to whom I was narrating my story, to discover just why I was here, and my fate.’
That is precisely what happened to me as I turned the pages of Trader Jack and perhaps explains my reluctance to put the book down. I never forgot my dad’s fish and chip shop, and think about Trader Jack whenever I now go to my local fryer. And thanks to ‘my story’, no cup of coffee can be consumed without recalling coffee trading. It is obvious that Neil Behrmann has extensive knowledge of how markets work and how hedge funds operate. I much admired his ability to incorporate this understanding into ‘my story’ without for a moment losing the plot.
By the time I had arrived at the last page, I must admit to being less than sure as to whether I, like Jack, should have been in that cell. I wondered whether I might have acted in a different way. Probably not. And by the way the sex was great too. And I can’t wait for the film.
Having read this story while the row over the Euro is blowing up, I would agree with the blurb – Trader Jack is a “gripping story” and a real page-turner. Just as in life right now we want to know what will happen to our pensions, jobs and savings, so in this tale we want to know how Jack Miner will survive, putting all his future into the world of hedge funds and short selling. Like Dickens with Oliver Twist, Neil Behrmann uses the young hero to show up the corrupt and manipulative adult world – in this case, not crooked beadles and housebreakers, but the rather larger villains of international trading and the manipulation of commodities (with all their knock-on effect for the poor of the world) . Unlike Oliver, though, Jack has an emotional hinterland, and as the plot moved on I began to wonder, was he less Oliver and more the Artful Dodger? I had to read on to find out, and also to meet a Dickensian sweep of colourful characters. Running throughout the novel is a debate about the risks the western world is facing from the movement of enormous sums of money – to the lay reader like myself an arcane subject, but one to which Neil Behrmann gives a human face. This thriller stands alongside John Lanchester’s Whoops in giving insight into the extraordinary world of the money market of today — RE Former School Principal & currently teaching literature at Adult Education Centre
He added in correspondence later: Several of our students have read or are reading the book and commenting very favourably.
Just finished reading Trader Jack – a great story with some truth behind the tale. I had major dental surgery on Wed – 6 hours – so used the time at home to read your book. I look forward to the next one!
Best Simon Hunt (Highly reputed Metals Consultant)
I have to agree with the blurb that this book is a real page turner. I’m a bit of an amateur investor, and I’ve also been very interested in trying to understand why people in the last 20 years took such risks leveraging their money to the extent that a single glitch could take out a whole system. This book is not about the recent market crashes, but it takes an inside look at the type of environments in which this kind of investment practice could develop. Jack Miner is a young man who is a natural investor who seems to have a knack at making all the right choices, even though it’s not his area of expertise. What starts off as innocent fun quickly snowballs into a situation that is so complex that Jack finds himself swept away into a completely new life. Trader Jack is so full of intrigue, suspense, romance and action that you’ll find yourself quickly caught up in the story, always wanting to know what happens next. I can’t wait for book two to see what happens next!
J. Pritchard, Texas publisher
I am writing to tell you that I have just finished reading Trader Jack which I much enjoyed and could not put down. Amanda is pleased I have now finished the book as she felt she had lost me to Jack Miner! - Paul (leading London lawyer)
This is a very interesting book about a northern lad (who doesn’t speak with a northern accent) coming to London and becoming big but ultimately failing because of greed, stupidity and crime. The author explains the market really well but unfortunately doesn’t explain the really complex trader deals which would have given the book even more insight. The morality of the story is very complex too as at the start you think that the author wants high commodity prices to help the Brazilian farmers (which Jack does at a much bigger profit to himself) but at the end of the book Jack is attacked for pushing prices up so much that the poor can’t afford to eat. I think the author wants the reader to decide whether Jack is a villain or not and the book is very sympathetic to Jack but you can’t really ignore that his only interest is material, money money money and doesn’t seem to care how he makes it, who makes it for him, or what the global effects will be. The irony is that when, as you always know, he loses it all – he doesn’t seem that bothered. Good book and worth buying if you are interested in the market.
– R B
EMAIL RECEIVED FROM BRAZIL (there are Trader Jack scenes there)
My name is Janaina Gimael, I´m a Brazilian journalist. I´m writing because I read your book “Trader Jack” and I loved it! It was great to read a fiction story that can also say a lot about how markets work in a very nice way of writing. I´d like to suggest your book, telling a bit about it and also sending a few questions for you through email if it was possible. I´m sure the readers would love it and as it´s possible to read it through IPAD (as we did), it wouldn´t be a problem the fact it´s not in Brazilian Market yet. What do you think? It would be possible? Oops: And sorry for my mistakes in English!!
What I’ve meant to tell you for months was that I got Trader Jack from Amazon, and thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s on my bookshelf for a re-read. You really are a good writer, and knowing your subject inside out is a huge plus that vibrates right through the pages – and you’re good at bringing people to life.
– Dana Wakefield, former technical analyst at Merrill Lynch, South Africa
Have just finished reading Trader Jack and very much enjoyed it .I am just off to swim at the lido one of Jacks haunts possibly followed by ‘wolfing down breakfast at the cafe on the Heath’. I seem to recognise a number of locations.