Richard Lock, an English lawyer, leads a seemingly plush life as the puppet running a Russian company. The company is nothing more than a front, allowing Konstantin Malin to hide the complex network that enables him to control the Russian oil industry. When a disgruntled and equally corrupt competitor tries to unveil their secrets by hiring a corporate intelligence spy, Lock's plush life quickly comes apart at its very loosely sewn seems.
THE SILENT OLIGARCH is an astonishing debut novel. The complexity of the network Morgan Jones has devised demands an equally complex plot and that's exactly what THE SILENT OLIGARCH is. Much like a labyrinth, the series of corporate hide-a-ways leads Benjamin Webster, the corporate intelligence spy, down many dead ends, literally. When Webster begins turning over rocks, he finds he's leaving a trail of corpses. Webster's fervor to take Malin down is linked to a horror from his past. But he must ask himself if his determination to avenge that nightmare is worth creating more.
Chris Morgan Jones writes with the confidence of an insider, thanks to his years at the world's largest business intelligence company, but he also writes with the confidence of someone who understands his characters inside and out. Malin's constant calm, composed veneer contrasts sharply against Richard Lock's genuine panic. And while Webster simply wants justice, his conflict over whether or not the price of that justice is too high grips the empathy of the reader. That in turn enables the average reader to connect with a world - and the people inhabiting it - that most will never know personally. Yet, they'll walk away feeling as if they do. There are no characters wearing magic capes in THE SILENT OLIGARCH, only real flesh and blood humans.
The pacing is swift, but not so much so that readers will have difficulty keeping up with all the players in the game. Dialogue is well written and natural. And the atmosphere creates a definite sense of place. The scenes in Moscow have a much darker tone than those set in London or Monte Carlo. Readers will be able to feel the deception in Moscow and the sheer desperation to escape in London.
Chris Morgan Jones is definitely on his way to claim a spot among the elite international thriller writers.
THE SILENT OLIGARCH releases Thursday in hardcover (ISBN: 978-1594203190) from The Penguin Press.
My post today is the first on TLC's blog tour. I hope you'll check out the other blogs and as they post their reactions to THE SILENT OLIGARCH throughout January and February.
And if any of my former students happen to be reading this blog post, I told you "oligarchy" would be a valuable vocabulary word one day! ;-) Happy Reading!