About Me

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Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada
I am a lawyer in Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada who enjoys reading, especially mysteries. Since 2000 I have been writing personal book reviews. This blog includes my reviews, information on and interviews with authors and descriptions of mystery bookstores I have visited. I strive to review all Saskatchewan mysteries. Other Canadian mysteries are listed under the Rest of Canada. As a lawyer I am always interested in legal mysteries. I have a separate page for legal mysteries. Occasionally my reviews of legal mysteries comment on the legal reality of the mystery. You can follow the progression of my favourite authors with up to 15 reviews. Each year I select my favourites in "Bill's Best of ----". As well as current reviews I am posting reviews from 2000 to 2011. Below my most recent couple of posts are the posts of Saskatchewan mysteries I have reviewed alphabetically by author. If you only want a sentence or two description of the book and my recommendation when deciding whether to read the book look at the bold portion of the review. If you would like to email me the link to my email is on the profile page.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Meltdown by Martin Baker

18. - 481.) Meltdown by Martin Baker – Some novelist usually anticipates a great event or series of events. Baker’s mystery featuring a global economic meltdown because of currency and other financial shenanigans was prescient of the black fall of 2008. Oxford academic, Samuel Spendlove, is lured into pursuing the secrets and manipulations of Paris financial trader, Khan. The story vividly portrays how a single man, with the backing of a bank, can send a billion dollars or more into financial markets in a matter of minutes. The unscrupulous seek to use those investments to manipulate markets. They care not if financial instability is the result. The rewards are great when right but the risks are worse when wrong. The story vividly illustrates the lack of consequences to the traders. They benefit when right and the bank loses when wrong. The danger is for the bank rather than the trader who will only be fired if too wrong. The speed at which huge sums are made and lost is too fast. Being able to buy and sell huge positions so easily is bound to be dangerous for future markets. The story shifts to mystery when fellow employee and lover (only once) Kaz Day is murdered. The authorities are glad to concentrate on the foreign trader who is alleged to have caused the great meltdown. The story moves quickly with some good twists. The pace seemed abit jerky at times. I wonder what the author might attempt to forsee next in the financial world. (May 13/09)

Having been published 8 months before the late 2008 financial crisis Meltdown gained significant attention after the crisis had occurred.

Baker's website sets out that Meltdown is the first in a triology involving Samuel Spendlove in the world of finance. The second book, Version Thirteen, is set in contemporary Moscow and is to be published this year.

Having read a fictional account of the financial disaster of 2008 I turn to a non-fiction exploration of issues causing and arising from that crisis in Boomerang by Michael Lewis. A review of Boomerang will be my post on Monday.


  1. Bill - That does indeed seem prescient that this was published less than a year before the 2008 financial meltdown. It always amazes me too how many risks people will take for money...

    I look forward to your sharing the non-fiction perspective on this crisis on Monday.

  2. Margot: Thanks for the comment. The biggest gambles many people make are not at casinos but with investments. There is a California aspect to the coming review of Boomerang.

  3. I have to say I did not enjoy this book when I read it and reviewed it for Euro Crime. It was one of those "gobbeldeygook" plots (not explained, things just happened). Although the global crisis happened after 2008 as you write, financial crises were not unknown before then, and had been topics of fiction before. This novel was very hyped in the UK when it came out as I think the author is quite well known in the media.

  4. Hi Bill -
    Martin Baker, author of Meltdown, here. Thanks for the comment. Version Thirteen is coming in late summer.
    Meltdown's in movie Development Pergatory (not Hell, but sometimes it feels like that - a story all of its own).
    As for prognosis, the pre-curosr to Meltdown, A Fool And His Money (collection of satirical essays, published by Orion), is being re-published as an e-book. It's a bit of gonzo economic and financial analysis that revisits the theme of inherent instability in the global market system.
    Meltdown received some very good and bad reviews. It seems to polarise opinion. Maxine certainly didn't like it, I recall. All I would say is a) being known in the UK media is a two-edged sword (some journalists and former colleagues seemed to want the book to fail - or maybe I'm paranoid!) and b) it wasn't my fault that Meltdown was Macmillan's lead title and got marketed - or hyped. It has been borrowed by more than 40,000 people at UK public libraries, where there's no marketing. That tells me the material and the book speak to people.
    Thanks again for the comment, Bill.

  5. Maxine: Thanks for the comment. I always appreciate your thoughts on books.

  6. Martin: Thanks for the comment.

    Many books produce varied assessments from different reviewers.

    From reading Maxine's reviews I can tell you her opinions are her own and not influenced by any public perception of the author.

    I appreciated your information on library usage.

    I hope the summer book launch goes well and that you escape from Hollywood purgatory this year.

    Please drop by the blog again.

  7. thanks, Bill - just to add I had indeed never heard of this author before I reviewed the book, which I was asked to do for Euro Crime. I got that info about him being a media figure from the press release I suppose. I find the topic a fascinating one as I enjoy a good financial crime novel. I was disappointed in the book, but won't go on further about it here.

    Michael Ridpath wrote a good crime novel about financial crises et al some years ago, followed up by progressively less good sequels. He didn't seem to publish anything for a while but has now reinvented himself with a very good crime series set in Iceland (I have the third one to read). It must have been a source of wry amusement to him that Iceland precipiated a global crisis which he weaved into the plot of book #2.

  8. Maxine: Thanks for the comment and the clarification on the background of your review.

    I will keep an eye out for Michael Ridpath.