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A Dangerous Fortune Mass Market Paperback – November 1, 1994

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Editorial Reviews

From Kirkus Reviews

Follett (Night Over Water, 1991; The Pillars of The Earth, 1989, etc.) peeks into the naughty world of late Victorian merchant bankers. A tragic misadventure among schoolboys is at the root of the rotten world of the Pilaster family. Weak bully Edward Pilaster and his too-dear South American chum Mickey Miranda cause the death by drowning of a lad from the lower form at their minor public school and then grow up to become as corrupt as one might expect. Mickey murders his way to a sinecure in the London legation of his nitrate-rich Latin American homeland, and, with much help from his gorgeous, manipulative mum Augusta, Edward bumbles his way to a partnership in the immensely important family bank. The only really good Pilaster, aside from discreetly gay Uncle Samuel, is young Hugh, whose father left the family firm, founded his own bank, and then had to commit suicide when the bank foundered. Hugh is a born banker, but since he's so much smarter than cousin Edward, Aunt Augusta hates him and throws constant obstacles in his path. Against Hugh's advice, Mickey and Edward team up on a series of huge loans to Mickey's government--money that goes to the purchase of war materiel and the advancement of Mickey's thuggish father. On this rotten foundation, the Pilaster bank grows to Imperial preeminence and Augusta gets the earldom she wants for the husband she dislikes. Hugh, pining for the Polish-born, Jewish bareback- rider he loved and lost and still nursing his childhood memory of That Day At The Swimming Hole, gets nothing but grief until those shaky South American bonds finally collapse and he's really needed. Interesting financial tips and a sprinkling of naughty bits, but the rest is minor Masterpiece Theatre. (BOM ??) -- Copyright ©1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


“A terrific page-turner.”Los Angeles Times
“Political and amorous intrigues, cold-blooded murder, and financial crises . . . old-fashioned entertainment.”San Francisco Chronicle
“Breathlessly plotted . . . relentlessly suspenseful.”The New York Times
“Gripping, complex plot . . . sexual intrigue . . . fascinating characters . . . You won’t be able to put down this exciting page-turner.”Lexington Herald-Leader

Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 576 pages
  • Publisher: Dell; Reprint edition (November 1, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0440217490
  • ISBN-13: 978-0440217497
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1.3 x 6.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,277 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #21,289 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Ken Follett was only twenty-seven when he wrote the award-winning EYE OF THE NEEDLE, which became an international bestseller. His celebrated PILLARS OF THE EARTH was voted into the top 100 of Britain's best-loved books in the BBC's the Big Read and the sequel, WORLD WITHOUT END, will be published in Autumn 2007. He has since written several equally successful novels including, most recently, WHITEOUT. He is also the author of non-fiction bestseller ON WINGS OF EAGLES. He lives with his family in London and Hertfordshire.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

328 of 333 people found the following review helpful By lawyeraau HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 11, 2002
Format: Audio Cassette
The author, a masterful storyteller, weaves an intriguing and mesmerizing tapestry of events that surround the wealthy Pilaster banking family in the latter part of nineteenth century England. Its panoramic sweep will hold the reader in its thrall. This complex story tells of the ebb and flow of their individual personal fortunes and the personalities that are to profoundly affect them, for better or worse.
Augusta Pilaster is the scheming, socially conscious, self-appointed matriarch of the family. She is a woman who will stop at nothing to ensure that her reckless and easily manipulated husband, Joseph, and their indolent, dissolute, and lackluster son, Edward, will get and retain control of the Pilaster banking enterprise. Her machiavellian machinations, however, will eventually trigger the downfall of the family's fortune.
Hugh Pilaster, Augusta's nephew by marriage, is the Pilaster who has the brains and work ethic to take the Pilaster banking fortunes to a new level. His Achilles heel is that he seems destined to be attracted to working class women, a chink in his armor that Augusta Pilaster uses to her and her immediate family's advantage. He, too, is Augusta Pilater's unwitting pawn, until the day of reckoning comes.
Micky Miranda is the romantically handsome scion of a wealthy, unscrupulous, and power hungry South American businessman. Micky attended an exclusive school with Edward and Hugh Pilaster, when they were young. While there, tragedy struck when a mysterious swimming "accident" took the life of one of their friends, an event that was to shadow their lives in ways no one could have imagined. Micky Miranda would eventually enter into into a web of complicity with Augusta Pilaster that would impact on the fortunes of both the Miranda and Pilaster families.
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96 of 102 people found the following review helpful By AntiochAndy on October 23, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
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.
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60 of 63 people found the following review helpful By J. Berry on December 21, 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Ken Follett writes two kinds of novels: good spy thrillers or good historical novels. This is the latter, a book where the reader is dipped into the subterfuge and manipulation of a major banking company in Victorian England, owned by the Pilaster family who have been haunted by an event which happened at a boarding school years ago. The plot has more twists than a corkscrew as the family's need for money and recognition plunge them into devious playing of Victorian values, ambitious plans and even murder. Hugh Pilaster, the hero of the story, has a kind of Hugh-Grantish confusion about him, even as he fights to keep the love of his life and his position in society, which is at times both endearing and annoying, and we find out more about Victorian brothels than we really want to, but other than that, a brilliant read.
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26 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Matthew Schiariti on October 29, 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is the third Follett book I've read in a row. It all started with Pillars of the Earth, the best book I've ever read. I read A placed Called Freedom right after that and enjoyed that alot as well. And I just got finished with A Dangerous Fortune. I can't possibly say enough good things about Ken Follett. Once again, it's the characters that drive the book. He takes you on a journey with these characters through many years of their lives and you get to see how they encounter, react and truimph over adversity. I don't want to give away any spoilers, but this is another 'must read' in my opinion. His characters are varied and colorful and the relationships, from friendship to love, villainy and hatred are so genuine I couldn't help but wish that these people lived at that point in history. A wonderful read that I will no doubt enjoy again in the future.
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