Reviewed by Jim Napier
From the pen of Montreal writer Robert Landori comes an international thriller based on the secretive world of international banking. It is a cautionary tale that might well convince you that keeping your assets in a sock under your mattress is preferable to entrusting them to shadowy figures in faraway tax havens who prey on people’s greed and gullibility. As the author himself insists, it could very well occur.
On a Sunday night in the Grand Caymans Jack Brennan is summoned to a meeting of bankruptcy liquidators and a high-ranking police official, where he learns that the Overseas Bank of Grand Cayman is unable to meet its debts and must, therefore, be placed in trusteeship. It is a large organization, numbering over 10,000 employees, and among the creditors who have their life savings invested in the bank is the police commissioner himself.
As one of the trustees, Brennan’s task is both formidable and complex. Only two weeks earlier his uncle, the US Secretary of the Treasury, had briefed him on a special assignment: to trace the laundering of illicit drug money held by the Chicago Mafia through Grand Cayman on its way to Columbia, and to provide the information to the US government. Given the banking laws preserving secrecy in Grand Cayman, divulging this information would be a criminal offense, with Jack facing prison if his actions should be exposed.
Intersecting with Jack’s personal life is Frau Doctor Elize Hammerle, who serves as auditor of the Pro Nobis Foundation, a financial conglomerate that has a net market value of more than 150 million dollars invested I nearly two dozen enterprises in North America and Western Europe. Pro Nobis is headed by Doctor Helmut Struder, the grandson of the founder of the banking firm of Moretti & Cie. At a meeting of the Pro Nobis board, it is revealed that not one, but two of the foundations directors are retiring. Enrico, another member of the Moretti family and the board, suggests that rather than find qualified replacements it might be simpler to reduce the number of Board positions from seven to five. Doctor Hammerle does not miss the fact that such a move would give the existing members of Moretti & Cie effective control of the Foundation’s decisions, and thus assets.
As Jack Brennan reviews the records of the failed bank OBGC he notices that many of its creditors, although disperse around the world, can be readily identified. By law, each will be entitled to refunds for any money deposited after the date of bankruptcy. But one account bothers him: it is sizeable, amounting to over 100,000 dollars, and so far the identity of the owner cannot be determined. When at last he does succeed in identifying the owner of the account he will be faced with solving a puzzle requiring him to solve four equations, and will be drawn into a journey that will take him back in time to the Second World War, threatening not only his career, but his life.
Robert Landori has drawn extensively on his own background in framing this complex and spellbinding tale. For most of his professional life he was a senior public accountant and a trustee in bankruptcy based in the Caymen Islands. Readers who love the challenge of a finely-crafted puzzle mystery will find much to engage them in Landori’s latest, Four Equations.
Four Equations is published by Ingram.