Audiobook Review: Clawback by Mike Cooper

27 08 2012

Clawback by Mike Cooper

Read by Henry Leyva

Penguin Audio

Length: 9 Hrs 36 Min

Genre: Financial Thriller

Quick Thoughts: Clawback was a fun melding of financial and action thrillers with a highly likable hero and plenty of thrills and spills for action fans. Cooper has created a character that I hope to see again, even if it means I have to figure out just exactly what a hedge fund is.

Grade: B

I’ll be honest, when it comes to big money and Wall Street, I know almost nothing. I have the normal banking accounts, a 401 K, and a big jar I throw my spare change in at the end of every day. Ask me about stocks and bond, hedge funds and futures, and I will just point at you and laugh like an idiot. I may spout the company line about White Collar crime, predatory lending practices and the many other ills that seemed to have been responsible for some of our economic woes, but in no way do I totally understand exactly how things are in the toilet. My vast knowledge of high finance comes from a few Stephen Frey novels I have read. So, I have to admit, I was a bit hesitant about taking on Mike Cooper’s financial thriller, Clawback. With fiction, I like to stick with things I know, or at least have a layman’s understanding of. I may not know all the intricacies of the law, but I know enough where I can have some semblance of an understanding about what should happen during a criminal tries. This is why most of my thrillers are either legal thrillers, or just about some lone badass kicking people’s asses for some understandable crime. Yet, the idea behind Clawback intrigued me. While I really don’t understand high finance, I do understand the idea of wanting to strike back. In Clawback, someone is killing off investment bankers, in particular, bad investment bankers. While I may not understand exactly how these people may have lost their costumer’s money, I can totally understand the raw desire to get back what is owed you.

Silas Cade is not your typical accountant. Fresh off a stint in the Middle East, Silas is now the go to guy when someone in high finance needs an account settled, in ways that skirt legality. When a series of investment bankers are killed after losing a whole lot of money, Silas is brought in to find who is behind the murders. Yet, the deeper Silas gets into the case, the more he realizes that things may not be as cut and dry as they seemed. Clawback is a complicated game of shifting money and loyalties that features an engaging and likable main character. While the plot often threatens to go off the rails, Cooper manages to keep the story grounded by focusing on his man character and his intriguing love interest. Silas Cade is the perfect blend of shadowy past, with present day everyman liability that makes him carry this tale. Cooper manages to surround Cade with a mixed bag of interesting characters, including a well conceived financial blogger who catches Silas’ eye. Whiles some of these characters are crisp and well developed, others become a bit one dimensional at times. One thing that truly surprised me about Clawback was the depth and detail Cooper put into his action scenes. For a plot that was often about ledgers, margins and futures, whatever those things are, there was a heck of a lot of edge of your seat action. The action was well choreographed and highly visual, adding a lot of tension and fun to the overall read.  While at times, I wasn’t exactly sure what the true motivations behind the crimes were, or the complicated financial issues being addresses, I knew very soon things would get all explody and I can clap my hands and cheer for Silas like a trained monkey. Now, in all honestly, Cooper does do a good job explaining some of the more complicated elements of the plot in a way readers even with only cursory knowledge of finance could figure out. Clawback was a fun melding of financial and action thrillers with a highly likable hero and plenty of thrills and spills for action fans. Cooper has created a character that I hope to see again, even if it means I have to figure out just exactly what a hedge fund is.

This was my first experience with Henry Leyva as a narrator, and I think he did a really good job. I always prefer first person narrators who actually sound like real people and not professional voice over artists, and Leyva accomplishes this with Clawback. Leyva’s voice gives Silas Cade a strong noir feel, while managing to sound modern not dated. His female voices were not quite as strong, but he defiantly took the low key approach, softening his voice, instead of trying too hard to sound feminine. This made me adjust to his female characters pretty quickly. Leyva offers a good range with the peripheral characters, whether they are common hoods, professional soldiers or big wig investment bankers. His pacing was sharp, bring the action scenes to life and allowing the reader to follow with ease. Leyva hits a lot of the right notes with his performance in Clawback, and is a narrator I will be keeping my eye out for.

Note: Thanks to Penguin Audio for providing me with a copy of this title for review.

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