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Mortal Bonds (A Jason Stafford Novel) Hardcover – October 1, 2013

4.4 out of 5 stars 89 customer reviews
Book 2 of 4 in the Jason Stafford Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Former Wall Streeter Sears follows up the Edgar-nominated Black Fridays (2012) with a story of Madoff-like financial corruption, murder, and redemption. Former trader Jason Stafford, who has served time in prison for his own financial misdeeds, is hired by members of the family of William Von Becker, whose presumed suicide while in prison for an elaborate Ponzi scheme has left a vacuum contended for by family members and associates. There is the matter of some three billion dollars left unaccounted for and eagerly sought by federal investigators, international bankers, a hugely wealthy Colombian American, and several freelancers. Sears handles the action knowingly if at times incredibly, and Stafford’s own family drama (his autistic son, troublesome ex-wife, and her mother and brother) lend a personal dimension to a complex story. Sears has a good feel for New York, where most of the action is set, for the world of finance (intelligently explained), for dialogue, and for the thriller genre, though he includes too many characters and more than a little needless filler. --Mark Levine

Review

Praise for Mortal Bonds
 
“A twisty tale of greed, double-crossing and families bonds both good and very, very bad. Grade: A”— Cleveland Plain-Dealer
 
“Sears’ brisk plot packs in believable action while also delivering a heartfelt character study of a man trying to rebuild his life.”—Mystery Scene
 
“Sears expertly continues to use financial corruption as a cautionary tale about greed while delivering a heartfelt character study of a man rebuilding his life.”South Florida Sun-Sentinel
 
“Jason Stafford, whose first case in Black Fridays sent author Michael Sears’ critical stock soaring, has personal and professional problems of his own in his second high-stakes adventure.”­—The Wall Street Journal
 
“The bestselling author who brought readers the unforgettable novel, “Black Fridays,” has most definitely followed up with a sequel that will blow your mind. This, like the first novel, will be one book you’ll want to read over and over again.”Suspense Magazine
 
“Sears’s knowledge of investment banking makes the plot compelling . . . Deft, witty prose is a plus.”—Publishers Weekly
 
“As densely plotted as Sears’ strong debut (Black Fridays, 2012), with complications that keep mounting in the race to the final curtain.”—Kirkus Reviews
 
“A touching, tense, and terrific thriller.”—Library Journal
 
“Sears has a good feel for New York, where most of the action is set, for the world of finance (intelligently explained), for dialogue, and for the thriller genre.”—Booklist
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Product Details

  • Series: A Jason Stafford Novel (Book 2)
  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons; First Edition edition (October 1, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399158677
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399158674
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (89 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,187,235 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By B. Case TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 27, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
What drew me to this novel was the chance to explore the type of people and financial dealing that might surround the aftermath of the collapse of an immense Bernie-Madoff-like Ponzi scheme. "Mortal Bonds," by Michael Sears, is a savvy streetwise financial thriller that deals with exactly those issues.

This book held my attention and taught me about the sleazy side of the slick billion-dollar world of high finance, Ponzi schemes, and international money laundering. As an added bonus, I was pleased to discover that the writing was exceptional, much better than I expected from a popular genre novel.

The 2008 Madoff Scandal had a huge emotional impact on me. There was so much about it that I did not fully understand. In particular, I could not grasp the psychology of the people behind the scandal. When I saw what this book was about, I hoped it might help me get inside the minds of the type of people that were capable of perpetrating these horrendous white-collar crimes. This book helped me do that.

The author knows his subject. He's a very bright, retired Wall Street financial insider. In interviews available on the Web, the author admits that he has known, personally and professionally, all of the types of financial characters he writes about in his novels; however, he makes it clear that nothing in this book (or in his previous book) is based on real people or real events. What I liked best about this book is that it offered me the opportunity to take a safe backseat journey into this corrupt financial landscape.

Although the book did not disappoint, it fell short of being a wholly compelling and realistic thriller.
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I liked this book. Early on, I actually considered not finishing it, but kept on and am glad that I did. The characters are very believable and the story is about crime within high finance, something about which I know nothing. Interesting side note is the lead character's dealing with a autistic son, a challenge for any parent.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Michael Sears has written a second book that is even better than the first, although BLACK FRIDAYS was an innovative and refreshing look at the shady side of high finance in our time. His main character, Jason Stafford, once again maneuvers through more than one difficult plot. His personal agenda involves the growing relationship with his autistic son and the other deals with his new endeavor as a financial "fixer". The word "fixer" is much more descriptive than "consultant" or "investigator" because Jason finds things and solves problems at the same time. And he's not above finagling things to work out a substantial financial reward for himself.

The main subject of this story parallels the Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme, a financial crime of concealment that has been with us for generations. To loosely paraphrase P.T. Barnum, there's a bunch of rich suckers no matter where you look. For a Ponzi scheme to work for any period of time, the inflow of new money from investors has to exceed the monies paid out to the initial investors. Greed (and being smarter than everybody else) obviously plays a major part. You can't cheat investors out of billions of dollars without the investors coming to you with billions of dollars. And it takes an incredible financial salesman to pull it off, someone who looks the part, walks the walk, and is a pathological liar. For potential investors won't believe someone who doesn't believe in himself . Pathological liars will say anything in the most convincing manner in order to better their agenda. They truly believe what they are saying, which makes it extremely difficult for the average person to discover the lie(s). Trust me, I know. My brother-in-law is schizophrenic and bipolar.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
When we meet Jason Stafford at the beginning of this above-average genre financial thriller, he's about to land on a helipad in Newport, Rhode Island, where he'll meet with surviving members of a Madoff-like family. Their unlikely request: find a missing $3 billion in cash that they can turn over to the Feds in exchange for some peace and quiet in which to rebuild their lives.

Of course, in thriller-land, nothing is ever that straightforward, and without much ado, Stafford finds himself in the midst of a rather complicated and nasty conspiracy to which he and those he loves may fall victim if he can't figure out a great way to play both sides off against the middle. Of course, Stafford's own background as a Wall Street trader, albeit disgraced, comes in handy -- he's accustomed to doing just that.

This is a particularly good example of the growing array of financial thrillers making their appearance on the scene in the post-financial crisis environment. Sears may have spent a few decades in the trenches of Wall Street, but he thinks like a writer and a novelist, refusing to get bogged down in the jargon and details of trading desks. (If you panic when you see the word "derivative" or "trading desk", don't worry: Sears does a good job of laying it all out and then, too, you can follow the gist of the plot without understanding all the financial nuances.)

This isn't the first novel to feature Jason Stafford, although it's the first that I've read. It might have added somewhat to my enjoyment had I been a little more familiar with the backstory but it's definitely not necessary: Sears slips in enough background detail that I never felt puzzled or perplexed by the characters or their actions.
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