Banks are failing. New York City is full of former financial-type men and women looking for work as the American economy takes hit after hit. Paul Ross is (relatively) lucky. After his firm goes under, his father-in-law, the wealthy and influential Carter Darling hires him on as general counsel for his hedge fund, Delphic. Though Paul wishes he didn’t have to rely on the Darling’s generosity, he also knows his wife Merrill is accustomed to a certain lifestyle, and he doesn’t want to disappoint her. However, when the apparent suicide of a close family friend and business associate leads to questions about the Darling’s business practices, Paul and his wife Merrill have to decide between family and freedom.
Financial thriller. The words almost sound like an oxymoron, but The Darlings is a taut, suspenseful telling of the lives of New York City’s elite and the problems in which they find themselves in one of the city’s biggest crises. Alger breaks down one small part of the financial crisis in a Madoff-like tale of greed, sex, and deception. Though the breakdown of the legal and financial problems is extensive, it is certainly not exclusive, and the inclusion of detail is interesting.
That said, the movement of a book that depends on action does naturally have to slow for these explanations, and The Darlings seems to suffer from wanting to explain the intricacies of a pyramid scheme, seek empathy for its characters, and set readers on edge, waiting for the conclusion of the story.
While it certainly kept me up, wanting to figure out who was telling what lies, I also felt as though some of the character lines were unfinished. Sometimes that doesn’t bother me if, for example, the characters are simply extraneous, but Alger’s supporting characters were, at times, more pitiable and intriguing than the main, and to finish the book without hearing from them seemed, much like the main characters’ attitudes, graceless and self serving.
The Darlings is certainly a timely book, and though very different from Domestic Violets by Matthew Norman (a book I loved), novels set in New York and Washington during the financial downturn seem immediate and almost otherworldly.
Have you read The Darlings? I think this is a book that will garner a wealth of different opinions. Is this one you might pick up?