In my opinion, Ken Follett is one of the better writers working currently, and A DANGEROUS FORTUNE is one of his best books to date. I liked his EYE OF THE NEEDLE and PILLARS OF THE EARTH very much, too, and while I don't think FORTUNE is quite that good, it is still one of the most entertaining books I've read recently. The story is set in England in the latter half of the 19th century, and revolves around the wealthy Pilaster family. The Pilasters are bankers and control the large and powerful Pilaster Bank. As schoolboys, both Edward Pilaster and his cousin Hugh, son of the family black sheep, are involved in the death by drowning of a fellow student. That event is the beginning of 25 years of intrigue, corruption and murder as the fortunes of the Pilasters and those close to them play out. Follett weaves an intricate and fast-paced, if not always surprising, plot around his characters that carries the reader from the mansions of London's rich and powerful, through seedy bordellos, to vile gambling dens.
This is contemporary pulp fiction at its best. The characters have depth and believability and Follett seems to do a good job of evoking the look and feel of the period. The pages roll by quickly and the book is hard to put down. But, if it's so good, why didn't I give it five stars? Generally, I reserve five-star status for books of what I regard to be classic status. Caesar, Tolkien, Sherlock Holmes, Harry Potter (yeah, I do think Harry Potter will be around for a long time). Maybe Harry Bosch, although I may have gotten carried away, there. This is, after all, pulp fiction and it just doesn't have the depth of the above. It is very entertaining, though, and I think most readers will enjoy it very much. Consider it a strong four plus and give it a look.