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as a great introduction to the literary talents of first time novelist Richard Graham-Yooll, who has reached into his knowledge of the insurance business and Saudi Arabia to pen a captivating tale of an international money laundering operation, a murder frame up, terrorist funding, fraud and US Mid-East politics. The result is a surprising and ingenious plot. Instead of using conventional offshore banking operations as the conduit for the illegal flow of money, Graham-Yooll distinguishes his first novel from others with similar themes by adding a new twistinsurance and reinsurance companies become the culprits in providing the ideal vehicle for illicit financial transactions. The novel opens when a senior director of the insurance firm, Brigham Payne, Sam Payne is blown up by a young female, who is purported to be a suicide bomber. She was accompanying Payne, while he had been dining with his son-in-law Guy Sinclair. Apparently, Payne was about to divulge something of immense importance to his son-inlaw pertaining to Brigham Payne. Sinclair is an employee of the company and his fatherin-law had also discussed with him his transfer to the firm’s London office. Sinclair manages to survive the bombing and a few weeks later is sent by his superior, Freddie Lewis, to Saudi Arabia to settle an insurance claim. The claim is supposedly a routine cargo loss made by the recycling company Alchem. Events begin to unfold rapidly when Sinclair meets up with his company’s Saudi representative, Musa Salech, who has some reservations about the claim made by Alchem. However, what is even more interesting is that Alchem’s American manager, Pete Jankowski, expresses some suspicion of bogus activities pertaining to his company involving secret supplies of gold, as well as secret clients. Jankowski fears that he is a party to something extremely devious and has even gone to the trouble of backing up his findings onto a disk that he alone can only access. Meanwhile, adding to the absorbing plot is the half American and half Saudi character, Kamila Rutger, who is Musa’s cousin and also the half-sister of Nadya, the purported suicide bomber. Kamila works with a Professor Oscar Reichert, co-founder of a Washington think tank, Khayyam Institute. Apparently, she had been sent to Saudi Arabia to research and analyze the country’s hidden divisions. Kamila also happens to be married to Jack Rutger, an American diplomat, who was assigned to the US Embassy in Riyadh. In addition to all of these characters, with their own personal agendas, we have the Machiavellian insurance tycoon, Sir Kenneth Pryce-Cramer, who also happens to be a board member of Brigham Payne, and whose criminal organization manipulates various enterprises for their own self-profit.
Blending all of this together with rapid-fire discussions, you have a very quick paced and ambitious novel. Graham-Yooll effectively works many threads, while at the same time he has skillfully created a cast of fascinating characters, each interconnecting to form pieces of a huge puzzle that keeps us on edge until the final scenes.