Review: The biography of Richard Hains included on the dust jacket states he is a financial expert and successful global investor. His first novel, Chameleon, draws extensively on this knowledge, especially in the first third of the book.
Jon Phillips, a financial wizard to whom excess is a way of life, devices a scheme that will net him millions based on rumors and false information, yet sees his profits turn to massive losses when news breaks that the Chairman of the Federal Reserve may have had a heart attack while in the company of an underage companion. Jon is immediately fired from his position, and becomes the fall guy for his company when the losses become known to their investors. When Jon's brother is murdered in a case of mistaken identity, Jon decides to take matters into his own hands and plots to personally recover all the money and exact revenge on the men who killed his brother.
Hains has tried to combine a financial thriller with a novel of international intrigue with mixed results. Readers who enjoy the nuts and bolts of stocks and bonds trading will get a thrill out of the first 100 pages or so. Hains provides enough information to keep readers interested without getting bogged down in esoteric details. But once the financial action stops, so does a lot of appeal of the book from this perspective.
The final two thirds of the book is largely an international race between Jon and those who are pursuing him and those he is pursuing. And for the most part, it's interesting, if not always credible, fiction. For example, it's hard to believe that Jon can travel the world using his own passport and remain undetected. It's even harder to believe that he can do so after he fakes his own death. Twice.
Finally, Hains has scattered lurid, explicit, and utterly pointless sex scenes throughout the book. They're written in such an emotionless manner that they're neither alluring nor appealing, and they're certainly not erotic. To his (or his editor's) credit, they are mercifully brief.
Acknowledgment: Maryglenn McCombs Book Publicity provided a copy of Chameleon for this review.
Review Copyright © 2007 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Location(s) referenced in Chameleon: New York City, The Hamptons, Gloucestershire, Melbourne, The Bahamas
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Chameleon by Richard Hains
Publisher: Beaufort Books
Publication Date: May 2006
List Price: $24.95
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Page Author: Lance Wright
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