Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Mad Money

By Linda L. Richards
$0.99 at Smashwords.com

In Mad Money, author Linda L. Richards has done what I didn’t think was possible—interest me in a novel in which the stock market and day trading have a prominent role.

Mad Money is really two mysteries, very different and yet with eerie similarities, and somehow former Manhattan stockbroker turned Los Angeles day trader Madeline Carter ends up in the middle of both.

The novel is so cleverly plotted that the tragedy that unfolds in the first pages, a seemingly stand-alone event serving as the catalyst for Madeline’s change of careers and cross-country move, ends up being central to the solution of the primary mystery.

Madeline moves into a tiny Malibu guest house/apartment on the grounds of the home of movie director Tyler Beckett and his new actress wife.

On her first night in residence, the Becketts invite her to a party they are hosting and she meets Emily, a fledgling assistant movie director who becomes her best friend and to whom she turns for help in solving the mysteries.

The next week she’s at a nightspot having a drink with Emily when, to her chagrin, her Harvard beau of 12 years earlier shows up at her table. The relationship between Ernest Carmichael Billings and Madeline had not ended well, and Madeline has no tender feelings toward him.

However, he’s become a wunderkind in the business world bailing out public companies and turning them around in record time. He’s recently moved to Los Angeles to become CEO of a company called Langton Regional Group. His appointment is a secret, though, until the public announcement is made the following Monday.

Over the weekend, Madeline does something she shouldn’t have: Decides to buy a lot of LRG stock with her nest egg. Presumably, because of Billings’ previous success, the stock price will go up with the announcement of his hiring. What she’s doing is called insider trading since she got a tip from the “inside” and buys her stock before the average investor learns that Billings has come on board at LRG—and that’s not legal.

Madeline makes her initial buy. LRG announces that Billings is the new CEO. The stock starts to go up as expected. Madeline buys more. She starts calculating her profit and thinking about at what price she’ll sell.

Just a few hours later, however, trading of LRG stock is “halted pending announcement.”

It turns out that Billings, the new CEO, never showed at Langton’s headquarters Monday morning. Madeline senses some funny stock business has taken place and wants to find Billings. He’s been kidnapped, but that is no deterrent to her.

What follows is her amateur, yet clever, investigation into Billings’ disappearance. Meanwhile, her landlord’s 17-year-old daughter goes missing and is also believed kidnapped. Madeline adds this disappearance to her investigative load and works leads on both at the same time.

The development of the story, the characters, the dialogue and the twists along the way put this e-book in the same category with mysteries from the big publishing houses that are sold in bookstores across the country. Richards has written a good book.

And, by the way, she has in the works two more Madeline Carter novels. I’m ready.

Click here to link to Mad Money.

--Davilynn Furlow

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