Robert D. Taylor is an entrepreneur, a research scientist, and has been working in the complex field of econo-physics. His debut novel, PARADIGM, is a thriller that satisfies on a number of different levels. It can be read as a straight suspense novel, with good guys vs. guys with the fate of the world at stake; a secret history novel, one that seeks to explain the past and present; and a financial thriller, in the spirit of Arthur Hailey and Allen Drury. And, at the same time, it is a work whose whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
In addition to his other remarkable accomplishments, Taylor is a past nominee for the Nobel Prize in Economics. His nomination was based, in part, on the market theory that he presents so succinctly in PARADIGM. According to The Taylor Effect, financial markets are susceptible to fluctuations of gravity and thus are predictable. I have no idea whether or not Taylor's theory is correct; certainly he has confidence in it, inviting readers to try it for themselves. Accurate or not, the premise of his theory as a motivating force in PARADIGM is believable: if such a theory was being acted upon, then the people using it would kill to keep it secret.
So it is in PARADIGM that when Alex and Nicholas Shepard discover a mysterious antique box hidden in a secret room in a palatial estate, they inadvertently start a chain of events that puts their lives, and the lives of those they love, in terrible danger. Alex and Nicholas, twin brothers and scientists, are at first stymied by the purpose of the box and its possible utility. But it is the papers they discover with the box --- financial documents that span decades and reveal vast and almost incalculable fortunes, even during times of poverty and depression --- that aid them in discovering the purpose of the box and the theory that ultimately will put them in the crosshairs of the head of a powerful family that has used its money and knowledge to influence events for generations. For what the Shepards discover is their own version of The Taylor Effect.
When Alex and Nicholas dramatically demonstrate the correctness of their theory, they find that they are living on borrowed time. And when one of the brothers ultimately meets an untimely end, the other is driven on a two-fold quest to avenge him and to protect his own family. To do this, he must discover the secret of the box's origin and the secret society that has passed it down from generation to generation --- a quest that takes him on an intercontinental race against time and across the centuries, in which he encounters a series of truths that will shake several institutions to their core.
Taylor is a fine and talented writer --- one wonders, given his accomplishments, if there is anything he cannot do well --- and the close of the novel certainly would provide him with the opening for a sequel, should he choose to write one. Let us be thankful, however, that we have PARADIGM to read now.
Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on January 14, 2011