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A Killing on Wall Street

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Two and one half moon gifJohn Wiley & Sons, Inc. (Hardcover),
ISBN 0-471-37458-X

I like this book. I liked it from the first sentence, a question: "Would you pay $59.98 a month for a phone that never rang?" Ummm, yes -- no telemarketers. No! Wait. Definitely, no. Editors couldn't call to say, "Set your price, I want to buy your book!" 

Book: Derrick Niederman, A Killing on Wall StreetI like the protagonist, Cliff Cavanaugh. He tries hard to explain investing while busily investigating the death of a fellow investor in A Killing on Wall Street, an investment mystery by Derrick Niederman. More than Cliff, I like the humor. For example, the author describes Cliff as "fifteen years into the Compound W of investment careers." (Get it? Warts?) But Cliff ditched the warty stockbroker job for a successful career as a day trader, and from there moved to murder investigating.  

Cliff, the only sleuth I know who solves mysteries using investment information, moves onto his second investigation after successfully fingering the murderer of a media analyst. He enlists the help of Tracy de Grandpre to assist him with the research and legwork. I bonded with Tracy immediately. Her understanding of investment, the jargon, the process and celebrities of the financial world rivaled mine for par -- zilch or triple bogey. Not good, however you look at it.  

I read through discussions of stock options and portfolios. I recognized names like Phillip Morris and chuckled over the Internet company named URLybirds that played heavily in the investigation. But by the time he referred to CBOE (which in a tongue-in-cheek footnote he identified as the Chicago Board Options Exchange), I didn't care any more than Tracy what he was talking about. Investment jargon should be listed as a second language. You know, "I speak English, Spanish and Investment."  

I wanted to follow the trail of clues. But I couldn't distinguish the red herrings from the clues. Foreshadowing escaped me. Yet, I insist Niederman writes a witty, maybe even informative, unique and beautifully paced novel. His timing -- near perfect. His humor -- over the top. Anyone who speaks Investment should thoroughly enjoy every page of it. But, I admit, by the time we got to the denouement and the final tying up of all the strings, I found myself in a hopeless tangle. I didn't understand the explanation. So I still wonder why anyone was killed and who truly benefited.  

I think I'll sign up for Investing 101. Maybe after completion, I'll reread the book and understand whodunit and why. Maybe I'll slip it in my accountant husband's Christmas stocking and let him read it to me (along with detailed explanations) during the holidays. 

But, darn it, I like this book!

Dawn Goldsmith

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