The Castro Gene
Todd Buchholz's name is familiar, it should be. He is the go-to guy
for any number of networks when an explanation of a complicated
economic principle is needed in basic English. It just so happens
that I refer to his books --- FROM HERE TO ECONOMY and NEW IDEAS
FROM DEAD ECONOMISTS, among others --- when I have to explain to my
nine-year-old daughter why I can't raise her allowance and need an
excuse she can understand. Buchholz has made the decision to jump
the fence, as it were, and has published his first work of fiction,
a thriller with a bit of mystery and a touch of dark humor
The chief (but by all means not the only) protagonist of THE CASTRO
GENE is Luke Braden, an up-and-coming boxer whose career is
derailed when he accidentally kills an opponent in the ring.
Reduced to working a security detail in a high-rise office building
in New York's financial district, Braden, through a series of steps
and missteps, finds himself sitting in the office of Paul Tremont.
Tremont seemingly has more money than God as the result of
successfully running Tremont Advisors, reputed to be the hottest
hedge fund around (and if you don't know what a hedge fund is, you
can discover the answer to that, and many other questions, by
reading this book).
Why has he chosen a washed-up professional boxer whose best years
in any profession would seem to be behind him? Well, there are many
reasons: the elements that the business world and boxing have in
common --- Braden's canny intelligence and Tremont's largess, among
others. Then there are the real reasons --- reasons that go back in
history and point directly to the issue of who Luke Braden is. He
has no clue as to how to uncover these reasons without the help of
his estranged father. Before the novel is over, Braden will
discover that everything he ever knew about himself is wrong and
that he is in the process of being set up --- and used --- to
change the course of history.
Buchholz makes an easy transition between fiction and nonfiction,
though he cannot resist giving a finance lesson or two to the
uninitiated. It's all good, however, with the reader as the winner,
even as he provides a new and totally original theory to what
perhaps is the most tantalizing mystery of the 20th century. If
Buchholz can tear himself away from the world of economics and come
back to fiction anytime soon, I'll be waiting.
Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on January 7, 2011