The Chairman
Stephen Frey
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The Chairman

Stephen Frey
432 pages
December 2005
rated 3 of 5 possible stars
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The Chairman – he’s the ultimate decision-maker, the all-powerful god in today’s capitalistic world. And in this story, the chairman is Christian Gillette. He ascends to the throne of Everest Capital, an aptly named New York private equity partnership, when the founding partner dies an untimely death. Before long, Gillette himself narrowly escapes being killed. The reasons as to how and why are just some of the many mysteries complicating this novel of high finance.

Evading death time and again, Gillette attempts to put his own stamp on the firm, first by eliminating a bitter rival, then in an attempt to fund the biggest multi-billion dollar fund ever. His growing ruthlessness together with his ambition provides plenty of motivation for Gillette’s enemies, both within and outside the firm. Beautiful femme fatales provide the ultimate deadly silken touch to a plot bursting with excitement, danger and obscene amounts of money.

There’s no doubt this story is deeply compelling - even people utterly ignorant of the world of high finance can understand the intricacies of the novel, largely thanks to the key definitions provided at the beginning of each chapter. The plot is intricate and shows every sign of heading towards a suitably grand finale. Unfortunately, this never happens.

Time after time, Gillette appears on the verge of death or defeat, and time and again he skillfully evades yet another disaster, and against pretty unconquerable odds. After the umpteenth time, this very omnipotence of his tends to take away much of the suspense and intrigue which so raised the reader’s hopes toward the beginning. In conclusion, this is a book that begins spectacularly, doesn’t end the same way and yet manages to keep the reader well engrossed along the way.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at © Rashmi Srinivas, 2005

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