Review

The Day Trader

by Stephen Frey



One of the by-phenomena of Internet access is day trading. Just
about everyone knows, or knows someone who knows, a day trader. A
day trader, when you cut through all the malarkey, sits chained to
his desktop while he moves around great amounts of money
electronically, buying and selling shares of stock with money they
may or may not have at any given moment. There are indescribable
amounts of money that can be made and lost in day trading.

One of my favorite stories of all time concerns an incredibly
successful day trader who suddenly began bleeding red ink like a
sieve. One loss led to another and it soon appeared as if he was
going to lose everything, including the opulent lifestyle that his
previous successes had afforded him. He had dinner with his lover
that night, told her about his succession of losses and asked her
if she would still love him if he lost everything. She looked
deeply into his eyes, leaned across the table, kissed him on the
ear and whispered, "I would still love you. And I would miss
you."

However, Frey's THE DAY TRADER concerns a guy whose lady wants to
leave him before he earns his fortune. The guy is Augustus
McKnight, whose dead-end job is merely a symptom of his dead-end
life. His lady is his wife Melanie. McKnight, who dabbles in the
stock market, makes a calculated online investment that nets him a
financial windfall. Before he can tell Melanie, however, she tells
him that she wants out of the marriage. A day later, she is found
murdered and McKnight finds himself the beneficiary of another
windfall --- he is the beneficiary of a one million dollar life
insurance policy that Melanie had insisted he purchase only a few
months previous. McKnight, in spite of his grief, is able to
recognize that he now has the freedom to fulfill a dream. He quits
his job and becomes a day trader. Frey does an excellent job of
describing the ins and outs of this occupation, as well as
explaining some of the ins and outs of stock market transactions.
His explanation of selling "short" is as cogent and understandable
as any I've ever read and he concisely explains, in a sentence or
two, why that stockbroker to whom you are paying a monthly fee
often has no better idea of what is going to happen day to day than
a dart-throwing chimpanzee.

All is not entirely rosy for McKnight, however. He is suspected in
his wife's murder and slowly but surely comes to understand that
Melanie had been living a double life. Additionally, Vincent
Carlucci, his best friend since high school, seems supportive of
his new career, even steering new clients to him. Carlucci,
however, has motives of his own and not all of them are beneficial
to McKnight. McKnight soon finds himself embroiled in trouble on
several fronts and unable to trust anyone. Frey does an excellent
job of keeping McKnight and the reader guessing, practically until
the end of the book.

Frey continues to lend a light touch to what in lesser hands could
be a ponderous topic by mining the world of high finance as a
vehicle for suspenseful novels. At the same time, his ability to
explain the ins and outs of the financial world, while keeping his
descriptions simple and interesting, is worth the price of
admission alone. THE DAY TRADER is yet another example of why any
work of Frey's is worth a long, careful look.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on January 21, 2011

The Day Trader
by Stephen Frey

  • Publication Date: January 1, 2003
  • Genres: Fiction, Suspense
  • Mass Market Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books
  • ISBN-10: 034544325X
  • ISBN-13: 9780345443250