Review

The Millionaires

by Brad Meltzer

Read an Excerpt



Several years ago I made the acquaintance of a winsome young lady
with a mysterious job. She worked for a company with a nondescript
name that occupied modest office space in an almost invisible
office building along a busy but decaying office corridor. I'd be
willing to bet my house and all that is underneath and above it
that you went past at least one building like it on your way to or
from your work today. The business of the business was...moving
money. This wasn't one of these places where guys duckwalked in
through one door, eyes fixed on a nondescript point on the opposite
wall, carrying bags that go jinglejangle when they bang against the
hog on their hip, and walked out through another door. No no. This
office, and all its little workerbees, moved money through
cyberspace. 24/7/365 there were people sitting in front of computer
screens entering data and checking numbers and taking names and
kicking butt. According to my friend, they were dealing with so
much money that errors were tolerated as long as they were within a
certain tolerance. It occurred to me on one occasion, watching all
of this happen in an eerie quiet broken only by an occasional cough
and the rapid, soft, taptaptap of fingers on a keyboard, that
someone who knew what they were doing could really put their finger
in the soup and come out with a large enough meatball to (1) gum up
the works and (2) be set for life, if they were smart, patient and
low key about it. I thought about that quite a bit, a bit more than
I would like to admit.

I, accordingly, went for THE MILLIONAIRES by Brad Meltzer as if it
were a road map to my most secret temptations. Well, almost; I mean
THE MILLIONAIRES does not even mention Emily Robinson of the Dixie
Chicks. However, what THE MILLIONAIRES does involve is the
following ethical question: What would you do if you had the
chance to take three million dollars that really didn't belong to
anybody?

If you're two brothers named Oliver and Charlie Caruso you go for
it. They work for a bank that is so exclusive that you don't get an
account, let alone a toaster or a radio, if you don't deposit a
minimum of two million dollars. When they discover three million
dollars in an abandoned account, they really don't think twice
about it. The money is going to be turned over to the state, for
crying out loud, if they don't take it. They can get themselves and
their poor mother out of debt and reinvent their lives. All it will
take is a few keystrokes, the creation of a few dummy corporations,
a friendly banker who knows how to keep a secret on a quiet island,
and they're in the money. It's so easy.

Well, actually, it's not. They pull off the transfer, go home, and
sleep the excited and restless sleep of the newly rich. The next
morning the bank is crawling with Secret Service agents, a friend
of theirs is murdered, and their world is crashing down on them.
When they run, they're marked anytime they use a credit card or
make a cell phone call. So where do they run? And how did everyone
find out? And since when does the Secret Service run around trying
to kill people? The brothers get the bright idea that Martin
Duckworth --- the guy who opened up the original account to begin
with --- might have something to do with all of this. They trace
him to Orlando, Florida, which, after the world becomes aware of
THE MILLIONAIRES, will be known for something besides Disney World.
And yes, the Brothers Caruso do get to see Disney World as well as
a side of it few people really get to explore.

Brad Meltzer is rapidly becoming the literary king of rock 'n'
roll. Those readers who jumped on board with last year's THE FIRST
COUNSEL will be back for this one sight unseen and will be more
than amply rewarded. Meltzer states in his introduction that with
THE MILLIONAIRES he was stepping into a world about which he knew
absolutely nothing. Fuggedaboutit. Meltzer leads us around the
world of banking and finance and cyberspace banking like a klaxon
with a 20 year pin. He never lets his explanations get in the way
of the story, however. You could read this all night and never once
bop yourself on the nose with it. Meltzer, from his first novel,
has been quietly but firmly shouldering his way to the front of the
suspense pack; on the strength of THE MILLIONAIRES he may just be
the future one to beat.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on January 22, 2011

The Millionaires
by Brad Meltzer

  • Publication Date: November 1, 2002
  • Genres: Fiction, Thriller
  • Mass Market Paperback: 560 pages
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
  • ISBN-10: 0446611921
  • ISBN-13: 9780446611923