A spectacular debut from Riley sees his protagonist, Byrne, battling against his former employers – the Secret Service, the NYPD and the shadowy Russians who are somehow involved in the mess he calls his life. All he wanted was his mother's money back and now he's being hunted by almost every law enforcement officer in New York for a crime he didn't commit.
Riley combines the blistering pace of an action novel with the financial shenanigans of the banking world and weaves a tale of action and intrigue. Among this he actually manages to explain the reason behind credit crunch with a clarity and frankness missing from any other explanation I have read, seen or heard about.
Byrne is a fine lead with his straight no-nonsense manner and his Secret Service background gives him the training he needs to stay alive. When he is talking about the financial misdoings of his country's banks he really comes alive and fills the role fully with his disdain for their banking practices. Some may see this as author intrusion or a wonderful honesty depending on which side of the fence they sit. Martinez is a fine assistant and engages well in the sidekick / person to hear explanations position without ever stealing Byrne's thunder. Carlton his former boss and other main characters such as the bank's CEO Rankin are all well scripted.
The prose is excellent in that indefinable way that just works. Whether making sense of the credit crunch with dialogue or describing a full-on action sequence, it works beautifully and sets the required pace and atmosphere for the event. The pace varies between fast and frantic as riley ramps up the tension, and then pauses to explain sub-prime mortgages before embarking on the next mini adventure.
Has Felix Riley created a bankable character which will have longevity? Yes. Would I read his next book? You can bank on it.