Money Can’t Lie, ISBN: 9780998185347, Schlegel Press, Book One, The Sleeper Series, A spy thriller in e-book by Anna Schlegel, translated from Russian by Alla Koshechkina.
Plot: Vlad Holt, once a Russian ‘sleeper spy’ and American citizen working in San Francisco as Harvey Smith was a dummy agent in a huge money scheme that largely consisted of shadowy inter-bank transfers of debts, both real and imaginary, allowing the silent partners to make large amounts of cash. The action involved several countries and numerous transactions. Time had arrived where a person had to be named responsible and the United States, Great Britain and the German Intelligence/Counter Intelligence agencies all were involved along with a couple of small banks in Poland and the Czech Republic which were implicated in money laundering because a man also involved and wanted for questioning, had accounts in these banks. The story then unfolds as the action proceeds to attempt to find a legal witness to the processes’ actual legal transaction that had taken place at the time. Vlad Holt/Smith becomes aware that he has been targeted when he learns of the death of another sleeper spy and realizes that the ear marks of the advancing endeavors points rather specifically to the British Intelligence Agency because they refused to compromise their integrity and have never varied from their tried and true methods. The complicated tale of international intrigue involving legitimate and illegitimate banks, money and individuals with mostly ‘shady’ pasts and/or presents is set forth by Anna, a Moscow securities trader until ‘the bottom dropped out’ and now intimately involved with the protagonists.
Discussion: This reviewer previously had read the first volume of the Dead Bank Series that was set in Moscow. It was, as the author explains, a book in which “…there are no cops, no killings. There is much about the illegal takeover of banks, and a powerful amount of money….(as seen) … thru the eyes of a swindler – (and) …there are no good guys.” My conclusion with respect to the volume of this series was: “An absorbing and totally different type of thriller `peopled’ with engrossing characters that provide flashes of intimate thought patterns of individuals we seldom encounter. It should be especially enjoyed by persons knowledgeable of business practices but regrettably difficult to follow for those of lesser understanding. However, for ALL readers it imparts a provocative insight to the thoughts of many native Russians similar perhaps to those generated by the motion picture Doctor Zhivago; i.e., it brings an intangible sense or `feeling’ of the country and its people that is even emphasized by the occasional slightly missed translation. In fact, this factor alone may be enough to induce the undecided to read the story even though comprehension of the fraudulent practices may be limited.”
This new series regrettably loses much of that quality in that it takes place in Germany and provides even more of a complicated, interwoven plot. However it does retain, and project much of a seeming sense of fear of surveillance with possible ensuing disastrous results that seemed to be widespread among much of the Russian population in the pre-Glasnost era and particularly anyone associated with the government or financial activity. (A personal observation/opinion.) Even several years later after the changed policies this same ‘sense’ still appeared to exist, although to a lesser degree. Amusingly, the characters here in the new series also seemingly continue to enjoy endlessly their vodka and cigarettes. The translation is not as well done as in the first book.
Conclusions for this book of the new series: another totally different thriller; a most complicated plot, difficult for those unfamiliar with finance; `peopled’ with engrossing characters; action – largely flashes of intimate analytic thought patterns by individuals seldom, if ever, encountered by the usual reader; the story’s appeal will be for those who like ‘something different’ with a complicated plot and characters introspectively reviewing past activity that could provide dangerous results that now are closing in.
3* Unique, complicated plot and characters in a story not for everyone.