Monday, July 7, 2014

What to do When You Have "Zero Alternative"

Let's talk about that great and terribly taboo topic today.

Let's talk about money.

Lots of money.

Delve with me into the financial sector where fortunes are won and lost, and it's not always the good guys who win.  It's the seedy underbelly of markets and the Mafia and how anyone will do whatever it takes to come out on top.  That's the scenario we visit with Luca Pesaro's Zero Alternative.

Book Blurb:




Scott Walker is a fugitive from the quicksands of Finance, with one card to play - DeepShare, a silicon oracle coveted by billionaires, hitmen and hackers. As he fights for survival and vengeance, digging deeper into the dark heart of the global economy, one question torments him: what price will the world have to pay?

ZERO ALTERNATIVE is an action-packed conspiracy thriller that plucks at the heart of human nature. When our grip on love, hope and morality starts to slide, the only future worth living is the one we choose for ourselves.

My Review:
As a former banker myself, I found the opening chapters riveting as Scott Walker preps for the biggest London trading day of his life.  Scott has invested his whole life into playing the markets and being the one person his European counterparts come to for inside advice.  But the real advice he's kept close to the chest.  This day could be the single biggest payout of his career if all goes according to plan.  Then Murphy's Law comes into play, where anything and everything that could go wrong - does.

First a power failure.  Then the computer connections won't come back online before the opening bell.  The only option Scott has available is to connect through a line meant only for a rival.

But Scott will do whatever it takes to ensure DeepShare's success.

DeepShare is a system designed and perfected by the great and powerful DM, Scott's mathematics genius buddy.  The Alpha version performed remarkably well in predicting outcomes within a two week span.  But this is the big test of the Omega version - and it's success rate of market predictions months in advance is set to be tested on the outcome of the forthcoming Italian elections.  If Omega is to be believed, the new Italian Prime Minister will be broadcast that very morning and will announce plans to withdraw from the Euro, shocking and surprising markets across the globe.

All except Scott.

But Scott and DM have targets placed on their backs.  Someone else knows about DeepShare and is desperate to get their hands on the Omega version - and the psychos will do whatever it takes to gain the upper hand.

Like I mentioned before, I loved the energy on the trading floor in the opening sequences, the hours of preparation and build-up prior to market opening, the heart-stopping moments where I held my breath along with Scott, waiting for the newscast announcement of the Italian elections outcome.  The tension crackled.

Then when all you-know-what broke loose, the thrills and the chase began as Scott raced across the continent in his effort to escape the unknown enemies hiding in every dark alley and seemingly around every corner.

Then we have Layla, a stripper Scott meets and ogles as he celebrates victory in his own twisted way.  But is stripping really her night job, or is she something more?

Layla was a strange addition to the picture for me.  There was absolutely no consistency to her as a character.  An agent of seduction, it's difficult to know which side she's on - and that was okay.  But with Layla we have this highly trained agent who rarely ever acts in a manner worthy of her training.  Her motivations and emotions became a muddled mess and she devolved from a kick-butt character into a sappy, rather wimpy disaster as the story progressed.  I found her to be rather unlikable in her hot and cold reactions.  This character simply dragged Scott's story down.

Her recommendations to Scott also call into question his own motivations.  When a terrible tragedy occurs, Layla encourages Scott to run away even though he had nothing to do with said tragedy (I'm really trying not to give away too much here).  There was no contemplation of stay and investigate what really happened.  It was all simply run away.  So he did.

Along the way, Layla introduces Scott to some seedy characters and Scott introduces Layla to more seedy characters.  They both make really obvious choices that nearly get them caught several times, and what started initially as an interesting and thrilling story became a convoluted hodgepodge where no character stayed true to themselves, where motivations were muddled, situations grew repetitive and tiresome, and no one really possessed any real redeeming qualities.  The essence of the main storyline became lost within a crumbling tower with little hope of being rebuilt.

Showing instead of telling was decent.  Point-of-view shifts were almost negligible and properly delineated by a scene or chapter break.  There were quite a few instances of extra words or missing words as the story progressed (to to or missing a conjunction) and it could use a little more editing, but this wasn't too disruptive to the story.

Words of caution for those easily bothered - Zero Alternative contains quite a bit of rough language, a few sexual situations, and graphic torture scenes.  Definitely not for those under 18.

What started out as a potentially thrilling novel ended up leaving me feeling rather ho-hum about both the characters and the overall convoluted plot situations.  But for the fairly clean structure, I'll give Zero Alternative a three and a-half star rating.

Purchase digitally or on paperback through Amazon.

Author Bio:

Luca Pesaro was born in Italy in 1971, but he has spent most of his adult life in the US or UK. After long years gaining a degree and masters in the pseudo-science that is Economics he got bored, jumped the gun and became a derivatives trader in financial markets - first with the tragic Lehman Brothers, then with a bunch of other banks, somehow always managing not to blow up. 

Recently he has decided to dedicate himself fully to his great passion since the age of eight – writing, mainly Fiction, but anything that amuses him at any given time. Zero Alternative is his first English novel, and he is hard at work on his second thriller.

He is married to the awesome F. and has two children, A. and J. who always manage to annoy, surprise and delight him beyond any reasonable expectation.

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