My third novel THE MANHATTAN PUZZLE features a conspiracy, a plot to win power through torture and murder. And some of the wealthiest people on the planet, a senior Chinese banker and the chairman of a Western hedge fund, are behind it.
Like me, you probably grew up believing people were essentially good. And they are. What THE MANHATTAN PUZZLE is about is the exceptions, the individuals who will do anything to achieve their aims. These are outwardly enviable people who will break every law as if it wasn’t intended for them.
I think most people accept now that conspiracies happen. There are even laws against them and prosecutions take place. One 2012 U.S. Senate report charged HSBC with laundering 12 million euros for opium and cannabis smugglers. It’s hard to believe isn’t it? But here’s just one link to the case, and here’s another. And here’s a recent one about Bank of America being charged with fraud. I’m definitely not making this up. All of these are reputable news sources.
If someone said a few years ago that major banks launder drug money most people would have laughed it off as a wild conspiracy theory. But it’s all true. And HSBC aren’t alone in this. Here’s a NEW YORK TIMES article about Citibank pulling similar stunts in Mexico.
Citigroup has been pulling other crazy stunts too. In 2011, they paid a $285 million settlement with the SEC for defrauding investors.
And those, I am afraid to say, are just three examples of our biggest banks being involved in conspiracies.
The financial sector has been exposed time and again as a place where conspiracies take place about as regularly as trucks pass down a highway.
And don’t think the US has a monopoly in this business. Here’s a miss-selling of insurance in the UK scandal: and an overcharging scandal and a bank involved in a foreign exchange overcharging scandal in Ireland.
Are you sensing a pattern? Or maybe the financial sector should just be left alone to cream anything they can off the gullible. You and me.
So I’m sure these aren’t conspiracies. They’re probably simple accounting errors. It’s just bad luck that they’re always in favor of the bank.
Because I know we’re not supposed to believe in conspiracies. JFK was killed by a lone gunman. There really were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, which could have killed us all in thirty minutes. And men did land on the moon and the take pictures of themselves taking off again. I believe what I’m told on the news every night. Why wouldn’t I?
I just hope to God there’s still some money left in our bank accounts at the end of all this. That they don’t mess everything up for the rest of us.
Because it wouldn’t be fun if the ATMs stopped working, would it?
That’s one rumor that goes around Manhattan in the middle of THE MANHATTAN PUZZLE.
The truth is, and we all know this, conspiracies are nothing new. They’ve been going on since forever. And no one gets hurt, do they?
But what about the suicides over bank debt – one example – which the bank was unlikely to give one poor young man a pass for. Or the drug mules that end up in prison and their lives ruined to keep that sorry trade running.
So what have I got to add to all this with THE MANHATTAN PUZZLE?
Well, THE MANHATTAN PUZZLE provides one thing that may warm your heart. Payback. Serious payback. Fictional, sure, but shocking too.
The novel has violence from the start. Be warned. One woman inflicts a very bloody revenge on a Manhattan banker. And though you may not approve of such things in real life, you might enjoy it in fiction. I certainly enjoyed writing it.
Because I’m tired of bankers being lauded for all their money in movies and books and magazines. I’m tired of the greed-is-good generation lording it over us. They may think they have all the toys, but there are some things that can’t be charged to a platinum card.
Love, loyalty and trust cannot be bought. And every one of us can have them, without having to steal and cheat. And murder. Because none of us can escape one certain rule of nature, you reap what you sow.
They certainly do in THE MANHATTAN PUZZLE. I hope you enjoy it. It arrives October 10, 2013. And remember, some conspiracies are true. Don’t believe the deniers. Look at the patterns.
Laurence O’Bryan was born in Dublin. He studied business, then IT at Oxford University. After going to England he paid for his own courses and began rising at 4A.M. so he could study and work at the same time. Laurence was first published by a school newspaper when he was ten, for a short story about aliens getting lost. Thirty-five years later, he attended a authonomy workshop and not long after was offered a publishing contract for three books. THE MANHATTAN PUZZLE is his third novel.
To learn more about Laurence, please visit his website.