Thursday, January 19, 2012
Deep in the Russian Ministry of Natural Resources sits a nondescript bureaucrat named Konstantin Malin. He draws a nominal government salary but from his shabby office controls half the nation's oil industry, making him one of the most wealthy and feared men in Russia. His public face is Richard Lock, a hapless money launderer bound to Malin by marriage, complacency, and greed. Lock takes the proceeds of his master's corruption, washes them abroad, and invests them back in Russia in a secret business empire. He knows little about Malin's true affairs, but still he knows too much.
Benjamin Webster is an investigator at a London corporate intelligence firm. Years before, as an idealistic young journalist in Russia, Webster saw a colleague murdered for asking too many hard questions of powerful people; her true killers have never been found. Hired to ruin Malin, Webster comes to realize that this shadowy figure might have ordered her gruesome death, and that this case may deliver the justice he has been seeking for a decade.
As Webster peels back the layers of Malin's shell companies and criminal networks, Lock's colleagues begin dying mysteriously, police around the world start to investigate, and Malin begins to question his trust in his increasingly exposed frontman. Suddenly Lock is running for his life- though from Malin or Webster, the law or his own past, he couldn't say.
Leading us into a world we can know little about, The Silent Oligarch is the brilliant overture of a major new literary talent. -- The Penguin Press
After reading reviews for THE SILENT OLIGARCH by Chris Morgan Jones, I'm kind of wishing I hadn't passed it along to Booking Pap Pap. However, it seems like he enjoyed it. Here are his thoughts:
THE SILENT OLIGARCH is Chris Morgan Jones’ first novel. It is a thriller about money laundering, front men and a Russian Oligarch. His previous experience in an international business intelligence agency appears to serve as a basis for the novel’s plot.
Richard Lock is the front man for the Russian Minister of Natural Resources, Konstantin Malin and is responsible for setting up a complicated array of shell companies to launder money for Malin.
Aristotle Tourna, a Greek magnate who is of the same ilk as Malin, is convinced he was cheated in an acquisition of a company from Malin. He files a law suit and hires a London based business intelligence firm to gather information in an attempt to destroy Konstantin Malin. Benjamin Webster, with previous experience as a journalist covering the gas and oil industry in Russia, is chosen by his company as the lead investigator. Webster is motivated by a long ago unsolved murder of a colleague who asked too many questions in her investigation of certain Russian oil and gas transactions.
Webster’s investigation takes him to London, Moscow and Berlin where he creates significant problems for Lock. As he delves deeper into the case, Webster and his family are threatened, one of Lock’s colleagues dies in an apparent suicide and Lock is put under the watch of body guards assigned by Malin. When Lock can no longer withstand the pressure from Webster, Malin and law enforcement officials from several countries, he decides to run.
The crux of the novel is the interplay between Webster and Lock and their dealings with their personal demons.
Richard Lock is certainly conflicted. Should he return to Russia and hope all is forgotten or should he attempt to separate himself from Malin and return to his wife and daughter in London? Can he trust Webster?
Benjamin Webster has his own issues. Is his investigation responsible for the death of Lock’s business associate and is he putting Lock at risk?Is his desire to solve the murder case of his reporter friend overshadowing his decision making on the case? Is finding justice worth the danger he has created?
THE SILENT OLIGARCH hits on the very timely topic of Russian corporate corruption as Jones combines politics, business and crime in an exciting novel. The story moves along smoothly with sufficient action to keep the reader interested right up to the unusual ending. This is a very good first novel by Chris Morgan Jones. I recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good international thriller.
Thanks to Booking Pap Pap for his review and to the publisher for sending a copy of this novel.