Review

The Fourth Order

by Stephen Frey

It's
been a while since a stand-alone work from Stephen Frey has been
released. That state of affairs is remedied with THE FOURTH ORDER,
a fast-paced and thoroughly readable potboiler (and that, from me,
is a compliment) that continues the author's practice of piercing
the complicated and complex veil of high finance.

The novel's protagonist is Michael Rose, the Chief Financial
Officer (CFO) for Trafalgar Industries, a major energy company that
has gotten ever larger under his careful hand. Rose has set his
hostile takeover sights upon Computer Information Systems (CIS), a
large information technology company. What Rose doesn't know is
that CIS is a "cutout," a company that is being used by the
nation's intelligence services to funnel money off of the books in
order to finance gray operations outside of Congress's
oversight.

In this particular case, CIS is being manipulated by a shadowy
government organization bent on combating terrorism by any means
possible. If Rose is successful in his efforts to acquire CIS, then
the revelations that would follow could not only cripple the fight
against terrorism but also bring the government down. Rose
accordingly must be stopped, either through manipulation or by
murder.

As always, Frey does a masterful job of explaining the ins and outs
of the financial world --- in this case, the steps to implementing
your very own hostile takeover --- and has conceived a fanciful but
nonetheless fascinating shadow organization answerable only to the
president. If there is a flaw here, it's that things are wrapped up
just a bit too quickly, almost as if Frey ran out paper or
patience. A more thoughtful denouement might have served this
exciting narrative better. This is a minor quibble though,
considering that it is a riveting, engrossing read for the
overwhelming majority of its pages.

Frey has established himself as one of the preeminent authors of
financial thrillers, and THE FOURTH ORDER is the perfect place for
those unfamiliar with his work to start. After reading it, leave
room on your bookshelf for more.



Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on January 22, 2011

The Fourth Order
by Stephen Frey

  • Publication Date: May 29, 2007
  • Genres: Fiction, Thriller
  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books
  • ISBN-10: 0345480643
  • ISBN-13: 9780345480644