Wall and Mean: A Novel


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“Captures the tone and feel of Wall Street better than anything I’ve ever read. A snapshot of the trader’s soul.”―Michael Lewis

Wholesome Pennsylvania kid and Wall Street phenom George Wilhelm is poised to become one of the most successful young bond traders in the business. A gambler at heart, George has turned his old poker skills into big profits on the Emerging Markets desk. Now those same skills have got him trying to out-trade the sports bookies in Vegas, and George’s hard-won security is in jeopardy as he racks up a ruinous gambling debt.

When the Brooklyn mafia sends two hitmen to collect, things turn ugly in a hurry: these boys have clearly never heard of a fair fight. George must scramble to keep his pursuers away from the bank and his family, while risking everthing on an all-or-nothing trade. Set in the glitter and grime of New York City during the bond-market boom of 1993, Wall and Mean is a fast-paced and surprising debut from a veteran of The Street.

George Wilhelm gets his kicks from sex, bond trading and gambling in this promising debut, which mixes those volatile elements with Tarantino-style violence. In 1993, George, a rookie Wall Street trader, is trying to make his mark in the cutthroat emerging markets funds. If the financial jargon Bernard uses is arcane, the frenetic pace and high-stakes maneuvers still emerge clearly. When paper success (low salary but prospects for high bonuses) goes to George’s head, he ups his bets on sporting events to levels that leave him facing financial disaster. Suddenly, he’s in over his head with a pair of sadistic debt collectors, who get their best ideas from movies like Reservoir Dogs. George is forced to concoct a scheme that will keep his bosses from learning about his problems and earn enough money to get him out of the jam. Bernard, himself a former bond trader, keeps upping the ante as his hero’s choices get more and more desperate. George’s transformation from brash risk-taking gambler and lover of the high life to gritty survivor is well done, but the rather saccharine ending isn’t terribly convincing. (May)
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