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Absolute Risk Paperback – October 26, 2010
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In his second thriller (after Final Target, 2010), Gore takes on global issues in a convoluted plot involving world financial markets and their impact on geopolitics. When plainspoken Fed chairman Milton Abrams enlists high-powered San Francisco PI Graham Gage to look into the suspicious death of an ex-FBI agent, Gage finds himself on the trail of former MIT mathematician Hani Ibraham, whose quantum theory of finance helped spawn the multitrillion-dollar Relative Growth hedge fund. His quest for Ibraham, who was deported years earlier on a bogus charge, takes him to Marseilles, but Gage remains in touch with his anthropologist wife, Faith, who is in China when an earthquake hits, prompting a revolt against officials who allowed the erection of substandard buildings. Gage, with impressive resources and talent at his fingertips, finds that all these threads connect and have vast implications. Gore stuffs a lot into his plot, including a presidential health crisis, but he manages it well, with a winning protagonist and a plausible premise that may leave readers worrying about—among other things—U.S. treasury bonds owned by China. --Michele Leber --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
“Masterful.... Sharp, smart writing and convincing economic detail put this in the front rank of genre fiction.” (Publishers Weekly (starred review))
“A brisk pace and an intriguing plot make the pages turn themselves.” (Richard North Patterson, bestselling author of Silent Witness)
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Top Customer Reviews
In a related subplot, Gage's wife Faith finds herself in the midst of a worker's rebellion in China following an earthquake. Workers are unhappy about unsafe buildings that were constructed with the help of foreign corporate bribes. Yet another subplot involves the vice president, who has been suckered into endorsing a National Pledge Day that expressly excludes all Americans who do not adhere to the Christian faith.
I liked Absolute Risk more than the previous Gage novel, Final Target. The insufferable smugness that characterized Gage in the first novel is gone and the plot is more straight-forward. On the other hand, I didn't think Absolute Risk maintained quite the degree of suspense that makes a thriller memorable. The subplot involving Gage's wife in China creates more dramatic tension than Gage's investigation into Relative Growth, yet it's a less significant part of the story. Having said that, I disagree with the reviewers who felt bored by the discussions of economics that occur throughout the novel. I thought they were interesting and integral to the plot; I never got the sense that Steven Gore was lecturing me about economics, nor did I feel that the characters' perceptive opinions about economic theory hindered the story. While I don't have the kind of economics background that would permit an informed opinion about the credibility of the scheme that Gage eventually uncovers, I can say that if it could happen (and Gore makes it seem plausible), we should all be very afraid.
There is a political component to the story that will turn off some readers. It didn't bother me, but some readers might think Gore is unduly critical of politicians who fail to keep church and state separate. It's a timely social issue that has been handled well in other novels, but it was a bit out of place in this one. That component of the novel seemed unnecessary and even distracting, although all three of the novel's storylines do tie together nicely in the end. Still, it isn't a large part of the story and it contributes amusement value, if nothing else. Be warned, though, that if you don't want to read about religion and politics in a thriller, you should find a different book.
Gore's prose is polished and free of clichés. His sentences are never awkward. I would give Absolute Risk 4 1/2 stars if that option were available. I look forward to reading the next Gage novel; something I wouldn't have predicted after reading the first one.
As a retired academic economist, I enjoyed thoroughly the debunking of traditional economic theory, while suspending some disbelief at the final solutions to the dilemmas that Gore poses in the book. It will be great fun for anyone who doubts the self-serving pronouncements of neoconservative economists whose theories have virtually no basis in evidence!
Tis book is so bad I will not be trying any other books by this author.
Where Gore fails is character. While there are certainly aspects of interesting and unique personality (as in the lead character's early contemplations), some of the character assignments make no sense (a supposedly caring husband hits on some woman when his wife is struggling around the world after an earthquake?). And some of the motives are questionable.
Besides the flaws, "Risk" is decent. It won't change the world, but could be worth a read.