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The Silent Oligarch Hardcover – January 19, 2012

3.6 out of 5 stars 63 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"From Chris Morgan Jones, an absolutely terrific novel. It''s about international intrigue--but the real deal. The Silent Oligarch is beautifully written, clean and terse, but you won''t notice, because you''ll be reading just as fast as you can. Very highly recommended, and you''ll want more."
— Alan Furst, author of SPIES OF THE BALKAN and NIGHT SOLDIERS

"A beautifully written thriller about how the power of money has been replacing the power of the state in the former Soviet Union, and how the West is no closer to understanding the way things work there than we ever were... The Silent Oligarch is a smashing debut that will leave most readers anxious to follow Webster on his next assignment."

An understated debut that carries a special resonance in the wake of Putin’s bare-knuckled presidential victory. The plot hinges on three men -- one bad, one good and one gutless -- whose work revolves around the billions of dollars and other assets that slither in and out of opaque jurisdictions stretching from the Cayman Islands to Vanuatu. Like the spies in a John le Carre novel, they are surprisingly plausible… Jones handles the large cast of characters and shifting venues with grace.

“This is a happy partner to the work of Deighton, Archer, and le Carré. Mysterious men, cryptic of speech and beautifully tailored, move through glittery settings—seacoasts, grand hotels, swank neighborhoods—carried on craftily understated prose that approaches cold poetry… Men are betrayed. Drugged. Kidnapped. Tossed off buildings. Downed by snipers. If the good guys win, it’s at such a cost they’re left wondering if they accomplished anything. They did. They were part of a first-class novel."
— BOOKLIST (starred)

"Like the icy eastern winter that seeps through the pages of his novel, Jones's prose is clean and cold, crisp and ominous. In its intelligence, its crispness, its refusal to recognise anything other than shades of grey, there are undoubtedly resonances of Le Carré here. But [The Silent Oligarch] is too good to need the publishing shorthand for "classy thriller": this is a debut that definitely stands on its own merits."

Jones weaves an engaging narrative that... confronts the dilemma of the west’s engagement with dubious characters and companies.

A story of quiet suspense and international espionage…Jones does a nice job of keeping the focus on the people involved rather than the minutiae of corporate espionage, and his pace is leisurely but never slow.”

"Fans of thrillers, especially those set in present-day Russia, will welcome the supernova that has burst onto the spy and suspense scene . . With a mysterious, complex plot and terrific local color, this novel resonates to the pounding heartbeats of the boldly drawn main characters. John le Carré, Martin Cruz Smith, and Brent Ghelfi will be inching over in the book display so readers in search of erudite, elegant international intrigue can spot the newcomer."

About the Author

For eleven years CHRIS MORGAN JONES worked at the world’s largest business intelligence agency. He has advised Middle Eastern governments, Russian oligarchs, New York banks, London hedge funds, and African mining companies. The Silent Oligarch is his first novel.



Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Press; 1 edition (January 19, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9781594203190
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594203190
  • ASIN: 1594203199
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.5 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (63 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,509,962 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Former journalist Benjamin Webster works as an investigator for Ikerru, an international corporate intelligence firm that delves deep into the business affairs of powerful people and their finances and exposes their secrets for its paying clients. When the wealthy Aristotle Tourna, an entrepreneur with the reputation for being both ruthless and sleazy wants to hire Ikerru, Webster evaluates the offer with reluctance and cynicism until Tourna explains he will pay the firm to bring down Konstantin Malin, a Russian bureaucrat whom many suspect is one of the richest, most powerful people in his country. For years, Webster has been haunted by the murder of Inessa, a fellow journalist who wrote about corruption in Russian. Webster has long suspected that Malin was behind Inessa's death. He is eager to take on this assignment.

It is not easy, however, to connect Malin to much of anything outside of his mundane job. The best option for doing so seems to be to convince Richard Lock, who appears to be Malin's front man, to turn on his master. Lock has become wealthy heading and manipulating the corporations Malin is believed to control behind the scenes. But Lock's association with the Russian has also cost him. It has cost him his wife and daughter, his independence, and his reputation. His days are kept busy being briefed by lawyers to defend himself and the corporation for which he is the major shareholder against the accusations of fraud Tourna has made in a suit. Law enforcement and financial watchdog agencies in several countries are also focusing attention on Lock and obviously bent on tying him to money laundering.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
My reading, over the years, has led me to understand that the Soviets spent as much time fighting each other as they did fighting the West. In spite of the breakdown of old time Communism, things don't seem to have changed.

In "The Silent Ogligarch", Robert Lock is a lawyer based in London, who, to the world, is an fantasically wealthy and powerful wheeler dealer in the oil industry. He makes and breaks deals and contracts with entities all over the world. His product is the oil beneath Russia. The problem is that Lock is a front man for one of those colorless, almost invisible bureaucrats who reside in governments. Konstantin Malin, if he wasn't in the Russian government, would be a Russian gang boss. His orders are carried out by an army of hoodlums who ostensibly also work for the Russian government. They travel all over the world carrying out Malin's orders to punish and kill those who get in his way. Lock is just another of his stooges. Malin's organization has been doing very well for fifteen years and would seem to be heading for even more years of success when two men enter this world, and all kinds of Pandora's boxes are opened up.

A man named Tourna. who is also a wheeler dealer. threatens to file a law suit which will open the Malin\Lock group up to world scrutiny. He will file a civil suit which will lead to criminal investigations by multiple police organizations all over the world, but worst of all, in Russia. Ben Webster is a former free lance writer who is now an investigator for a private security firm. His field of investigation is one where he looks into the background of plaintiffs and defendents in suits like Tourna's to see where the skeletons are buried.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Chris Morgan Jones clearly understands the disparate worlds that make up the universe of his debut novel, "The Silent Oligarch." He has worked in business intelligence, and has served as an adviser to governments in the Middle East, Russian oligarchs, New York banks and London hedge funds. He draws on his insider's knowledge of all of these realms to craft a well-told saga of the efforts to take down a Russian oligarch who sits as a minister in the Kremlin and is skimming billions into his own off-shore coffers. The complex dance that takes place between the oligarch and his minions and the investigative team that seek to take expose and ruin him is a beautifully choreographed bloody ballet worth of the Kirov or Bolshoi. The oligarch, a rival business tycoon who is suing him, a London lawyer and a cynical investigative journalist serve as the four cornerstones of the plot that careens from Russia to Monte Carlo to London.

The plot is complex and very plausible; the major elements could be found in the headlines of any of today's best newspapers. The writing is crisp, the characters are well drawn and nicely developed. I thoroughly enjoy this novel and look forward to more from the pen of this talented writer.
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Format: Hardcover
Comparison to Le Carre is rather far fetched. Jones is overly wordy with material totally unrelated to the story line - a story line I first found intriguing. I lost interest before the halfway point, but finished the book, nevertheless, looking for surprises expected in this genre. But none were to be found; even basic details of corporate espionage are sorely lacking. Character relationships are ill-defined and story focus is weak. The vague and inconclusive resolution at the end was the last straw. Sadly, the book was not worth my time.
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