Anderson, Geraint - 'Just Business'
I was fully aware that I'd lose my job if anyone at my bank could prove I was "Cityboy", and though I desperately wanted to leave the City before I morphed into a rotund, red-faced alcoholic facing my third divorce, I wanted to do it in my own time and certainly not before this year's bonus, which looked likely to be disgustingly huge.
Steve Jones, a research analyst at Geldlust Bank, is piling on his clients' entertainment: cocktails, expensive restaurant, now vodka and cocaine in the nightclub. Big money spent but big money that would result in fat orders tomorrow and worth the hangover. Nevertheless when he gets into the taxi for home Steve breathes a sigh of relief, he is getting too old for this. Next day and hungover to the point of pain, Steve is attending his departmental meeting at the bank when he becomes aware of the close attention paid to him by his boss and Steve knows why. Word has leaked out that he is the author of the notorious "Cityboy" column in thelondonpaper. It's a column that Steve has taken to writing in order to save his sanity and it delights in exposing the excesses and corruption of The Square Mile including those of his own bank and of his own bosses. Steve can see that he is for the chop, he can hear it in every loaded comment that his boss utters. So near and yet so far, this year's bonus would have secured him the wherewithal to live the life for years to come. Don't panic, boy. First up, Steve decides, he needs proof positive that the boss is planning to sack him. All he has to do is to break into his boss's emails, and he succeeds in doing so. But Steve comes across more than his own dismissal plans. He finds an email that points towards corruption at an international criminal level, and Steve knows just what he will do with his discovery.
JUST BUSINESS is Geraint Anderson's fictional follow-through from his semi-autobiographical expose of city corruption and excesses published in 2008, CITYBOY. This time however, Anderson has written a fully-fledged thriller around the Cityboy character of Steve Jones. The events of the book cover twelve months or so from 2007 to 2008 when the City teeters and slithers on the brink heralded by the collapse of Northern Rock. But this is not some coolly expressed tale based around the intricacies of financial crime. With JUST BUSINESS Anderson gives us a fast-paced thriller focused on murder and pursuit, laced with drugs, disguises, villains with a capital "V", and the adrenalin-fuelled flight of Jones and his girlfriend Gemma across Europe and beyond. Written in the voice of Steve himself, the language is free, laddish and sweary. One would like to say one's sympathies are fully engaged by Steve Jones as he skates through the narrow squeaks. But the qualities of chancer and gambler that make him a successful investment analyst and that carry him through the action of the thriller are ambiguous. Does this give him a politically incorrect charm? I'm not sure. JUST BUSINESS gives us an absorbing high speed adventure. Perhaps the jet-ski sequence was a bridge too far for me but that makes me sound like the singularly humourless reviewer I probably am. Also I have to say that some of the characters seem caricatured. Read it for fun and thrills. Be prepared to remember that the book is all about the attitude encapsulated by its title, JUST BUSINESS. Grab a chance to gasp a little more at the corrupt cynicism of "The City" and you won't be disappointed.
Lynn Harvey, England
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