“A dizzying, enjoyable caper…After reading this hard-to-put down thriller, you may put all your money in your mattress.”
—Los Angeles Daily News
-“Never a dull moment, and Ms Neville makes it all the more plausible because of her intimate knowledge of how international banking works. She plots well and takes the reader through the intrigues and backbiting of immense corporations…[A Calculated Risk] churns up wave after wave of excitement.”
—The New York Times
“Intriguing and well-written…a high-tech, high-stakes, socially responsible banking novel…a lot of fun.”
—The Washington Post
“A Calculated Risk… set in the complex world of banking and fraud, hooks within minutes…A first-rate page-turner, written with real intelligence.”
—Good Book Guide, U.K.
“… banking emerges from its subdued pinstripes. “A Calculated Risk”moves swiftly and satisfyingly while exuding plausibility.”
—New York Reporter Dispatch
“…a gripping tale of financial shenanigans and romance.”
—What’s New: (Beyond Bestsellers)
“A Calculated Risk is an enthralling read that can be enjoyed at a number of different levels, depending on the depth of the dive. The story is told with a verve and a panache that will captivate and hold the reader until the last page is turned…The Eight was a tough act to follow, but this author has again demonstrated her intriguing ability to apply chess moves to plotting and produce a fascinating work in a new arena she obviously knows well.”
“Neville has some mighty nasty things to say about the money game… do you doubt her?”
—The Philadelphia Enquirer
‘When Neville conceived A Calculated Risk… the scams portrayed in the book were figments of her imagination. They turned out to be prophetic.”
—The Roanoke Times
“A lean, taut thriller… when you’re dealing with bankers, you need to recognize the possibility that someone in the building might be a bigger crook than you are–and that they’re playing for keeps.”
—San Jose Mercury News
“… humor, plus the delectable back-stabbing that is the hallmark of corporate ladder climbers, makes A Calculated Risk” a no-fail winner.”
—Newport News Daily Press
“Linking a volatile female bank executive with computer expertise to n iconoclastic genius angry with financial institutions, this novel romps into stealth and excitement… Clever, sardonic and somewhat unnerving to anyone with a bank account, this combines financial wizardry, suspense, and a little romance.”
—Tribune Daily News
“The author keeps her plot twisting and turning and manages to build up a fine degree of tension… After reading her novel, I’m thinking seriously of closing my bank accounts and putting my money in my mattress.”
—Los Angeles Times
“Anyone who’s ever wanted to get back at an employer should read should read Katherine Neville’s A Calculated Risk… Neville makes the world of banking and auditing so exciting… This is an unusual subject for a mystery, and she handles it well.”
—Kansas City, MO Star
“Katherine Neville has combined all the elements for an unputdownable read: financial maneuvering, a passionate and almost obsessive love affair, the meeting of two equals on what is usually a masculine turf–all played out against a backdrop of San Francisco, New York and a gorgeous Greek island.”
—The Costco Connection
“A splendid first rate work of fiction that is bound to thrill everyone’s imagination. This is a calculating page turner which carries the idea of the dare and the gamble to ever new lengths. First with The Eight and now with A Calculated Risk Katherine Neville has carried the art of fiction to ever new heights.
—The New England Review of Books
“… a highly convincing insider’s view of international banking.”
—Publishing News, UK
—Manchester Evening News, UK
“… a thrilling and entertaining tale of high-finance games, romance and deceit… This gripping novel is full of action, emotion and intrigue and will have readers captivated.”
—Gisborne Herald, New Zealand
“Katherine Neville is likely to make you cast a jaundiced eye over the entire banking community… What’s likely to make you nervous about this is how plausible it all seems.”
—The Seattle Times
Interview with Tacoma News Tribune
There are two likely responses most of us would have to the question, “How safe is your money?”
1. “What money?
2. “Well, now that you mention it, I don’t know.”
In a way, author Katherine Neville is interested in both responses. According to her latest novel, “A Calculated Risk”, our money exists in increasingly phantom forms and isn’t very safe at all.
And as the saying goes, Neville knows whereof she speaks. She blazed her way onto the best-seller list a few years ago with a novel called “The Eight,” a labyrinthine tale set in both the Middle Ages and the 1970s and spun the legend of Charlemagne’s lost chess pieces.
But before writing “The Eight,” Neville worked for a Big 8 – CPA firm, that is. She also designed financial computer programs for the likes of Honeywell, OPEC and the Algerian government. She worked with computers for Uncle Sam and served as a vice president at Bank of America.
In fact, Neville’s been such a globe-trotting computer wizard that she seemed to regard her 17-city book tour — which paused at Seattle’s Four Seasons Hotel — as little more than a Sunday drive.
“It’s been fun,” she said finishing a cup of Starbucks in the Four Seasons lobby. “Most people are drawn to the computer fraud in the novel, but actually I tried to include just about every kind of large-scale theft that I could think of. I guess the computer stuff just has more appeal.”
Most of “A Calculated Risk” is appealing partly because it doesn’t take itself too seriously, partly because it’s a carnival of dizzying subplots, but mainly because it skewers greed and will scare the balance sheet out of anyone who does anything with money except hide it under a mattress. And Neville will have even you taking a second glance at the mattress.
The protagonist of “A Calculated Risk” is a young woman named Verity Banks. (Like Dickens, Neville is a novelist who believes characters’ names were meant to have fun with.) Verity is almost too smart for her own good and decidedly fed up with the boring middle managers at the San Francisco bank in which she works.
So to show the dullards how vulnerable their international banking system is, she decides to steal (temporarily) many millions of dollars, then patiently explain how she did it. Along the way, she enters a friendly competition with her former mentor, a handsome, weird, reclusive computer genius named Zoltan Tor. The hunkish hacker Z-Man is like a cross between Bill Gates and Warren Beatty.
From there the subplots proliferate like a hard-drive gone haywire. We get a high-speed tour not just of international computer fraud but of counterfeit currencies, swiped securities, cornered markets and inside trading. Of course, both in romance and finance, our heroine Verity bytes off more than she can program.
Neville says she got the idea for “A Calculated Risk” some 10 years ago, when she worked for Bank of America. “At first my worry was that people would read the book, get ideas and commit fraud of some kind,” she said. “But then, as each year went by and another huge financial crime occurred, I worried that people would think I was just borrowing from the headlines.
“There are a few more safeguards in international financial than there were in the’80s,” she said. “But people still figure that only 15 percent of the losses are accounted for, so the ripoffs are still in the billions of dollars. All you have to do is look at the BCCI scandal to get a hint of the sums involved.”
Two simple premises guiding Neville’s novel are hard to dismiss. The first: When human beings exchanged things of value, such as cows or animal hides, theft was difficult. Coins and jewelry are easier to than cows, bank notes are easier than coins and ghostly electronic impulses are easiest of all — because a thief doesn’t actually have to pocket them, and because they can represent massive amounts of cash.
The second premise: In the age of computer-enhanced global economy, the world still operates with horse-and-buggy methods. “We need more international agreements on how to trade money with computers, how to print currencies, how to complete banking transactions — everything.” Neville said.
The banking VP-turned-author is a renaissance woman (she’s worked as a fashion model and commercial photographer) whose literary tastes belong to the golden age of the novel.
“I love Dickens, Alexander Dumas, even John Galsworthy,” she confessed “I like the baroque plots and melodrama. I like to write little caricatures that remind me of Leonardo da Vinci’s sketches.”
Continue reading: Interview with Tacoma News Tribune
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