Chesney Braun has a dream: love and money. Her plan is money from Wall Street and marriage next year. But money brings disaster. What about love?
Pat Luckett has shaken off his working class roots and created his Wall Street dream, but it is slipping away from him. He stumbles onto the terrifying deal of a lifetime. It’s his way back to the top. But at what cost?
Magnus Binks is the King of the Street but he seems in danger of losing his crown to Chesney and Pat. He snares them with the twin temptations of greed and power. But he finds he has also snared himself.
“Dancing with Madmen” is a terrific and enlightening exploration of the financial world –and of women’s place in it. Chesney Braun, its dynamic and ambitious heroine, competes in that world and wins; she engages love relationships in a similar, more than equal posture. The novel’s insight is what I needed to understand what women in the financial world are confronting, and how and why they make their decisions, both in their work and in their loving.” – Abigail Heyman, Author of “Growing up Female; a personal photojournal”
“Lawrence Malkin and Susan Traill understand today’s Russia – what has changed there and,more important, what hasn’t. A Russian threat to the West remains, but it is different from Soviet days. The Russian gold scam that the authors pose, or something like it, could indeed touch off a global financial crisis.” – Fred Coleman, former Newsweek bureau chief, Moscow
“A riveting, suspense-filled story full of spectacular over-reachers, connivers hoist by their own petard, and cool-headed schemers. This novel tells the story of the high-stakes chicanery that led to the Wall Street collapse better than anything else I’ve read.” – David Mikics, editor of “The Annotated Emerson” and University of Houston Professor of English and Creative Writing
“Dancing with Madmen is a tense, fast paced thriller which perfectly captures the dog-eats-dog world of investment banking, commodity trading and the international art world. It moves from Wall Street to Moscow via the gold markets of London. The novel kicks off from the first page and doesn’t slow up. Highly recommended.” – Richard Bridger, launch consultant to the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications (SWIFT)
You can read the Prologue below. You can also find the Prologue and Chapters 1-3 on Amazon.
“Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influence, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist. Madmen in authority, who hear voices in the air, are distilling their frenzy from some academic scribbler of a few years back.”
– J.M. Keynes, General Theory of Employment
Joerg Bauer’s computer screen was carefully positioned at the back of the room so that only he could see it. He ministered to it like a priest of the old order who turned away from the congregants to take the host, but his vocation was manipulating money, not saving souls. The desk lamp illuminated his laptop as he transferred the files of the new accounts from the mainframe to check through one last time at home.
The yellow glow from the Ringstrasse played through the wooden shutters of the magnificent windows, almost closed. It caught the gilt frame of a painting and the uneven glass panes of an antique bookcase on the opposite wall. Lower down, a maverick ray painted an orange streak across the parquet. The square room gave an impression of largesse totally alien to the secretive business of the bank.
Bauer packed his laptop into its padded black case to log onto New York first thing in the morning. His pulse was fueled by hours of sweet moccas that helped in the struggle to sharpen his brain after toasting his new clients with vodka from the bank’s own cellar. The bank stocked only distilled grain spirits, and together they sampled them all, from pure to pepper to cinnamon, throughout the lunch of roast boar. Bauer’s bosses not only approved but applauded him hosting the banquet. Now he would show them that lavish entertainment provides an equally lavish reward. His clients’ instructions had proved tortuous, but he had found his way through the maze and the prize was there for him to claim. His computer now literally gleamed with his good fortune, and he felt secure, protected.
Since the merger, life as a banker had become relentless. Money moved more speedily and in stranger circles, and not just directly from the East, where Bauer had made a reputation when Europe was still divided. He had managed to maintain his standing at the bank and even made discreet steps upwards through the scrambled new hierarchy, but the pressure from the top to improve performance was growing intolerable.
Credit Allianz’ more openly ambitious officers pretentiously called this race to boost their bonuses “keeping up with New York.” The stupid ones, who always tried to profit from disaster, thought that 9/11 would give them a chance to invade and occupy Wall Street, but he knew it would be just a hiccup in the markets. Within months it proved to be no more than that.
And now these new Russian accounts, opened by three men with gray faces and clean passports, offered the prospect of huge currency transfers and gold custody fees. They were just what Bauer needed to stay ahead. It would have been inadvisable to ask his clients questions or not to laugh with them. They teased him in the traditional Russian way; it was unpleasant but not unexpected; he had suffered worse in the old days for less return. Just accept the deposits, lay them off for a fat commission and move on to the next deal, the sooner the better. That was the way money was made these days, huge rewards for nimble people with short horizons. One day they would all reach the precipice, but he had been there before. He knew he could pull back just in time and hold onto his winnings.
As he rode the elevator down to the bank’s garage, he breathed as if he had just finished a morning run. Only a few cars were still scattered in their spaces. One was his own silver Mercedes. He thumped the door shut, pulled the seat belt across his copious middle, and composed the journey home in his mind. He would point the powerful car toward the Palace of the Schwartzenberg counts, now a hotel. Outside it still stood the despised monument to Vienna’s Russian liberators. Even now, no Austrian would dare talk of taking it down lest it give offense to clients in Moscow. He would drive by as fast as he could on his way home to Grinzing.
Speed notwithstanding, his dinner would be cold, and when reheated too dry. He had not had time to phone Hannelore and tell her it was unnecessary. It was not her fault that his work prevented her from putting a decent meal on the table at the end of his long day. At night he took his pleasure from his wife quickly; she performed her conjugal duties without joy and accepted the money and the status. Tonight he could offer her the promise of a place at the highest level of society.
As Bauer reached forward to fire the ignition, a wire snaked around his throat, crossed at the nape of the neck, and jerked tight. His head cracked against the headrest, crushing his windpipe into his spine. Bauer struggled and spluttered, clawing at his throat as his eyes bulged. But the seat belt stopped his body from turning, and the wire dug deep. When it was all over, gloved hands tipped the driver’s seat to Recline, undid the belt, eased the body into the carpeted well in front of the rear seat, and covered it with a blanket. A man in a silver gray suit, looking much like Bauer, slithered behind the wheel, squared Bauer’s laptop on the passenger seat, and gunned the engine. He took the laser remote from the dashboard and clicked it to raise the steel garage door. As the car drove out onto the Ring, the security camera recorded Joerg Bauer in his Mercedes leaving the building.
Walt Whitman’s 19th century description of New York fits today’s city that never sleeps.
“Proud and Passionate City –
Here in the financial power houses of Manhattan, the ambitious and aspiring work hard to achieve their dreams and establish their status as heroes.
But how far are they prepared to go and who will get crushed as they set out to win against their rivals?
This is at the heart of our story.
But it begins in another city on another continent, as you can read in the Prologue below.