Review - Deadly Portfolio by John Hohn

Deadly Portfolio is an absorbing page turner that, to me, was about greed and what people are capable of when they feel cornered. Set in an upscale lakeside community, it opens with Matthew Wirth, an investment broker, calling in his junior executive to inform him of some bad news. Their most important client, the McAllisters, had decided to transfer their account to another company.

The junior broker, named Morrie Clay, doesn't take this well. He resists, insisting that they try to dissuade the client from taking such a step. But Matthew is a man of integrity, and does not want to upset the McAllisters. In addition to being a friend, Mr. McAllister has been a loyal customer whose investments have been a great benefit to them for years.

When Morrie reacts by storming out of the office, it is surprising to all. But Matthew resigns himself to it. The junior executive is set to take over the firm upon Matthew's pending retirement, and thus stands to lose from the McAllisters' exit. But Matthew sees it as a temporary setback, and believes that all will work out well in the end.

What he does not know is that Morrie has good reason to be concerned. He had illegally placed a trade with the McAllister's account without their permission. And the trade has lost big. So the process of transferring the account will reveal this impropriety. At the least this would destroy their careers. At the most, it could mean jail time.

Morrie goes home and informs his wife, the beautiful Monica. A sharp, calculating woman, she has great ambitions. She tries to calm her husband, and they struggle to find a solution to their problem. Could they change Matthew's mind about talking the McAllisters out of their decision? Could they possibly stall the transfer until Morrie could find a way to fix the bad trade? They decide to wait until after a July 4th party being held at the Wirth's. All the neighbors and friends would be there, including the McAllisters.

The party is a great one. There are happy couples, unhappy couples, drunks, and lots of inappropriate flirtation. Until jealousy causes one of the guests to stumble out drunk and despairing of life. And suddenly there is an opportunity for murder. In comes Detective Raker, a tough low key Colombo type determined to find the truth. Thus begins a cat and mouse game that culminates in an ending you're not likely to forget anytime soon.

The characters are very well drawn. They feel real and I was interested in learning more about them and following their paths in this story. The bad guys aren't totally bad; they have motivations that anyone can understand. The writing itself was well done, and there were descriptions that were simply beautiful. My criticism would be that there were grammatical mistakes, but these do not take from a great story. Well done, author.

Click on the cover page above to get to the Amazon page to read a sample.

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