Saturday, February 25, 2012

Dark Pool: Where has all the Money Gone?

      Ponzi schemes are amazing. Some are barely legal because they 'sell' a 'product. You've seem them - send $5.00 for this kit and we will show you how to make thousands, all you have to do is have four friends sell this kit to four of their friends who sell to four of their friends who sell...Well you get the idea. Each person who sells something below you ends up sending you a piece of the pie. Man on top reaps huge benefits, man on bottom loses shirt. Some schemes are illegal - send one dollar to the first name on this list of four names, take that name off and yours to the bottom, pass off to ten of your friends and pull in the dough! Then some are not only illegal but downright evil - invest with me and I will make you 30% on your money for as long as you stay. The owner of the scheme makes off with all the dollars and you get left with nothing but foreclosure notices.

       So is it any wonder that someone would latch onto this and write a novel with a Ponzi scheme in the center? But with the novel Dark Pool by Helen Hanson there is a wicked twist. Not even the man who created the scheme has the money! Where is the money? What does some kid who just spent six months in jail for hacking have to do with it? Is the man with Alzheimer's faking it because he knows about the money? Should Maggie trust the luscious Russian who just moved in across the street or is he there to kill her?  Meanwhile, across town, Kurt Meyers has to find the money O'Mara has stolen from people investing in his Ponzi scheme but soon finds the Russian mob breathing down his neck.

Dark Pool
By Helen Hanson
Published by Domino INK
Pages: 294

From Amazon: 
    By this time in her life, Maggie Fender expected to be on her way to law school. Instead she’s far from any degree, waiting tables to support her teenage half-brother and their ailing father. With early onset Alzheimer’s, her father’s lucid moments are few and unpredictable. 
   Her brother’s legal defense for felony hacking charges strained their finances to a snap. In spite of the conviction, he claims he was framed. But now that he’s on parole, he also claims their father is sending them messages. 
    Maggie’s tired of the struggle, but she’s everybody’s legal guardian. Slowing down will lead to disaster. She can hustle. Or face financial ruin. 
This isn’t the life she envisioned.

About the book: 
     The story opens with Maggie fetching her fifteen year old brother from prison, a brother she never believed was innocent of the hacking charge laid against him. Her father is falling into severe Alzheimer's, her stepmother whom she loved died, and her own mother is off into the wind, leaving young Maggie with the world on her shoulders. Then, when Maggie and Pete get home, they realize their father left the house after the neighbor's last welfare check on him. Frantic, they search for their father, Martin, only to come across a dead body on the beach. Worried, they make their way home only to find the neighbors surrounding their bushes where they finally discover their father.  He is disoriented - and holding the bloody murder weapon!
    While Maggie is dealing with her brother and father, a large group of investors out for blood are meeting across town with Kurt Meyers, the man hired to find their lost money. The man responsible for the scheme that stole these investors' savings, Patty O'Mara, is under house arrest but he isn't saying anything about the money. But these investors aren't the only ones interested in answers. The head of the local Russian mob is looking for his investments as well and makes threats against Kurt, demanding Kurt keep him informed under threat of his life.
      When a new man, another Russian, moves in across the street and shows interest in Maggie, she thinks her luck is finally turning. Until, that is, she discovers the Russian mob is interested in her family. Who can she trust? Her brother she never believed? Her father who almost never has a lucid moment? The honey of a man who might be with the mob? Or the man trying to locate the stolen money?

My take:
     I enjoyed this book very much. The story started a little slow, even though there is plenty of action in the beginning. Still, the writing is good and the story winds together into a tight package well worth reading. Slowly the pieces slip together.  Sometimes I thought I knew exactly how the story would turn out only to find another piece not fitting in my theory. But later, the piece fit right into the puzzle perfectly. 
     This is not a who done it, since we know from the beginning who killed the man on the beach. It is a where is it, as in where did the money go since the investors don't know and the man who took it acts as if he doesn't know.
    I liked the way Hanson plays with the lost money, teasing us with theories and leads. Even toward the end of the story, I couldn't believe where the trail was leading. The twist is quite nice.


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