$26.95 | buy the book
A tough, topical financial thriller that exposes the dark underbelly of Wall Street.
After a stint in the Middle East, black ops vet Silas Cade becomes an "accountant"—the go-to for financiers who need things done quickly, quietly, and by any means necessary. Silas is hired by a major player to pay a visit to a hedge fund manager to demand clawback: the mandatory return of compensation paid on a deal that goes bad. But before Cade can tell his client that he got his ten million back, the guy turns up dead.
And he's not the first. Someone's killing investment bankers whose funds have gone south. Silas's scrubbed identity, and his insider's perspective, makes him the ideal shadow man to track down whoever's murdering some of the most hated managers on Wall Street. With the aid of a beautiful financial blogger looking to break her first big story, Silas tracks a violent security crew who may be the key to the executions. But as paranoia and panic spread, he begins to wonder: is the threat coming from inside the game—or out?
With breakneck pacing, nonstop action, and cutting edge details of today's financial intelligence technology, Clawback hurtles to its final twist, a gripping contemporary tale of shady finance, venal corruption, and greed run rampant.
Mike Cooper is the pen name for a former financial executive. Winner of a Shamus Award for his short fiction, he was also nominated for an International Thriller Writers Award for a previous novel, published under another name. He lives in Boston with his wife and two children.
You'd think imminent arrest for a forty-million-dollar fraud might slow a guy down, but nope, there he was, wandering out of Bazookas at midnight. By himself, conveniently. I'd been one step behind for twenty hours, chasing Hayden Pennerton across the hedge fund demimonde: Greenwich estate to Park Avenue offices to midtown soju bar to East Village nightclub, and numerous meetings between. Finally, long after dark, back to Connecticut—stopping off at a strip club on the way home, like it was any other workday.
Hayden was so obvious a flight risk I couldn't believe the Stamford PD wasn't standing in line.
A dozen college boys got out of their cars, dome lights glowing and radios blaring as they slammed the doors. Light traffic passed on Richmond Hill Avenue. The parking lot was well lit, the air warm for early October.
The sort of night you felt comfortable, at ease. Safe.
"Hey," I said, friendly-like, when Hayden walked past. "How are the girls inside?"
"Easy on the eyes." He was thirty-six, gym-fit, not too drunk and a Master of the Universe. What did he have to fear from me? "Nice, too."
"I hate wasting my money, you know what I mean?"
I was no older than him, respectably dressed in gabardine and button-down. My knock-off Breuget was good enough to pass. Hayden saw what he expected to see: another rich asshole, a man of his world.
"The way I figure it," he said, "cash money is never wasted on a naked woman."
The Yalies disappeared inside, pulling out their fake IDs. For a moment, we had the parking lot to ourselves.
"May I?" I stepped up to Hayden, locked his right arm nice and smooth and put the Sig into his side.
"I'm pointing this away from me," I whispered, about six inches from his face. "If I pull the trigger, half your internal organs splatter the pavement."
"To your car, please. Silver-gray Audi S5, right?"
"You're fucking jacking me?"
"No," I said. "Beep the remote on your keychain."
That was tradecraft—give someone a small illusion of control, and they're more willing to go along. It also occupied his free hand, inside his pants pocket. If he expected to drive, which always seems to happen in the movies, so much the better.
We edged over to the Audi. Too much tension in Hayden's muscles. He said nothing, but his breathing shortened, and the movement I could feel in his arm was too obvious.
"The door," I said.
He leaned forward, opening a little space between us—then twisted, shoved and broke the armlock.
All much faster than I expected.
"Shit." I stepped back, even as he swung a pretty nice left. By luck or design the punch struck the medial nerve, right below my shoulder. A shockwave of pain down my arm, and I dropped the pistol. Oops.
I guess he was a gym rat.
Hayden jabbed again, then crossed. I blocked but the blows hurt. This was taking far too long.
"Gonna fuck you up now!" Grinning, teeth bared.
"Right," I said, waiting for his footwork to align. The instant it did, I kicked him sharply in the knee. He stumbled, face going white. I slipped inside, punched his sternum—hard—and followed with an elbow in the neck. He whooshed and fell backwards, onto the Audi's hood.
I picked up the pistol, flexing my other hand. It hurt.
At least no one had seen us.
A minute later Hayden was more or less conscious again, groaning in the back seat. I'd flexicuffed his ankles together and his wrists to the steel bucket seat supports, one on each side of the car. This left him leaning forward, arms locked out and down, bent over his knees. The position made it hard for him to breathe in fully, and therefore hard to yell.
Not that I was worried about noise. Audi's soundproofing is top-notch. I sat in the passenger seat, keeping the handgun in sight.
"Just to be clear," I said. "I don't want your wallet, or your house keys, or this car—though the leather is very comfortable." It had that new-car smell, even over Hayden's sweat.
He grunted and glared.
"This conversation could have gone much easier, you know?"
"Oh, well." I tapped him on the nose with the gun barrel. "I represent one of your investors. He wants to remain anonymous, so I'll just call him Mr. Green."
Another labored grunt.
" ‘Green' for the best kind of negotiable instrument, get it?" I allowed a demented chuckle. "No?"
It helps if they think you're crazy.
Hayden finally spoke. "What do you want?"
"Mr. Green is unhappy."
"What does he want?" Considering his position, Hayden was more defiant than most sensible people would be. I shook my head.
"Mr. Green has become distressed by rumors of a liquidity crisis in your operations."
"Hey, that's all bullshit."
"Oh? That leak from the Manhattan DA's office was solid enough for the New York Times. How many counts in the indictment—twelve, was it?"
"She's up for re-election. What do you expect?"
I thought about hammering his skull with the Sig. "In any event, Mr. Green has decided to accelerate his redemption request."
"Think of it as clawback." A term of art, referring to the mandatory return of compensation paid on a deal that later goes bad. Sometimes the ‘claw' part is literal. "Mr. Green is now at the very front of your creditor queue."