Stephen Frey continues the high-stakes financial thriller begun with The Chairman in his new book, The Protégé. Himself a protégé in the first book, Christian Gillette has now emerged as the Chairman of Everest Capital, the world’s most powerful private equity firm. His success seems neverending, whether it’s netting the Las Vegas NFL franchise or taking over an ex-rival’s sinking firm. But all this has come at some considerable cost. Surrounded by bodyguards, Christian has to be constantly vigilant to avoid both relentless assassins and dangerously ambitious underlings.
Distraction comes in the form of beautiful young heiress Allison Wallace, who brings billions of dollars and unrest to Everest in her wake. Gillette can’t afford to placate his jealous girlfriend, especially when he has other rivals for his attention - viz shrewd but placid Nigel Faraday, his right-hand man, and brilliant but brash managing director David Wright, of whose deadly potential Gillette has little realization.
Things get infinitely more complicated when the Mob comes into play even as an ultra-secretive Pentagon unit promises to solve Gillette‘s father’s murder case in return for a top-secret favor. If and how Gillette manages to survive this extremely complicated scenario makes for an outright engrossing read.
As always, high stakes finance remains the heart of this Frey novel, with some cutting edge techno-stuff thrown in at the last minute to make matters worse. While the average reader might not always be able to grasp the subtle nuances of Christian Gillette’s brilliant financial maneuvers, they will nonetheless remain impressed with the colossal results. But this time Frey also provides some hitherto little known facts about the personal life of Gillette, whose rise to fortune is a tribute to hard work and dedication. This makes this protagonist a little bit more human and understandable.
Surrounded by increasingly complicated and costly conspiracies and unable to trust anyone but himself, Christian Gillette treads a lonely but highly risky path as he attempts to find the truth. Keeping track of all the tangles he is involved in will make readers’ heads spin even as they’re sucked deeper and deeper into the convoluted schemes with each successive page.
An agile plot together with non-stop suspense and a touch here and there of some personal complexities makes The Protégé a highly desirable read, despite Frey’s tendency for heightening finales that don’t always result in an equally dramatic ending. Some key questions remain unanswered, which likely means readers can look forward to more shenanigans from this financial cowboy.