The Banker’s Wife by Cristina Alger
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Is money the root of all evil or does it make the world go round?
The answer to that is yes.
Annabel is American living in Geneva with husband Matthew whose job with a secretive Swiss bank keeps him away from her too much, but the trade off is the wealthy lifestyle they’re living. Marina is journalist engaged to Grant who comes from a very rich family, and his father is about to become a candidate for the presidency of the United States. It might seem like both these ladies won the trophy husband lottery, but Annabel is bored and lonely while Marina feels like she’s have to have to give up the job she loves to really be part of Grant’s family. Yeah, I know. Rich people problems.
However, things take a turn for both women. Annabel’s husband is killed in a small plane crash with home of his wealthy clients, and she starts questioning exactly what he was doing at the bank. While on a vacation trip to Paris, Marina does a favor for her old friend and editor by picking up a USB drive with encrypted data, but this errand leads to her ending up with information on money laundering done for international criminal types. Both Annabel and Marina quickly find out that these are not the kind of people who like you asking questions about their business.
This is a solid thriller whose biggest strength is in the idea that there’s a vast ocean of blood money being hidden and utilized by some of the world’s most powerful people. If you’ve been paying attention to current events that’s a story with the ring of authenticity to it. I mean, a rich asshole with presidential aspirations and shady international business connections isn’t much of a stretch these days, and it gives the whole book an honest hook to it.
It’s well written by airport thriller standards, and the presentation of the lives that Annabel and Marina are leading is very well done. There’s some interesting thematic stuff in that Annabel truly loves her husband is now filled with regrets about the independent lifestyle she gave up even if she is living in the lap of luxury. It fits nicely with Marina’s story since she’s on the verge of essentially making that same choice.
Unfortunately, the weaker side comes with the thriller stuff. There’s a few scenes with characters being followed and some lightweight chase scenes, but this isn’t an action story. It’s more about paranoia and dread which is fitting for a book about the money and power lurking behind world events, but I could have used more of a sense of danger to it.
And frankly it seems like a book that real world has outpaced in terms of how much trouble we’re all in. The characters here have faith that a free press and government oversight can ultimately stop and punish people who break the law like this. It doesn’t take into account that the evil rich doing this stuff are now the ones in power, and that institutions we counted on to protect us have been corrupted or neutered.
So it’s a decent read with an interesting idea and above average characterization, but it comes across as too naive a story to really accomplish what it might have just a few years ago.
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