Select one of the keywords
The Silent Oligarch    by Christopher Morgan Jones order for
Silent Oligarch
by Christopher Morgan Jones
Order:  USA  Can
Penguin, 2012 (2012)
Hardcover, e-Book
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

In The Silent Oligarch, Christopher Morgan Jones, who himself worked for over a decade at a business intelligence agency, delivers a chilling mystery, involving financial manipulations at the highest levels.

The story opens in 1999 when protagonist Benjamin Webster, then a journalist, flies with a colleague, Inessa, to Kazakstan, to investigate a plant where waste is dumped in an unlined pit and, over decades, 'chemicals have seeped unchecked into the water table', devastating locals' health. The journalists are arrested and Inessa is executed. A decade later, Webster has changed his profession. Now he works for Ikertu, a business intelligence agency. He's happily married with two small children.

English lawyer Richard Lock long since consented to be the front man for a financial empire under the control of Konstanin Malin, who ostensibly works for the Russian Ministry of Natural Resources. 'Over the last fifteen years he had wrought an intricate fiction with closed-ended funds and open-ended funds, with limited liability companies and limited liability partnerships, ... with every imaginable acronym in every available offshore hideaway.' He has enjoyed an opulent lifestyle, and is lounging in Monaco with his mistress Oksana, when he is called to meet with Malin.

Lock learns that Greek business magnate Tourna is alleging that he is part of a 'criminal conspiracy'. Lock must work with Malin's lawyers to defend against the lawsuit. Unfortunately, enough digging is bound to reveal that Lock 'was the richest foreign investor in Russia, the owner of a huge private energy conglomerate. And he had no plausible account for how he came by any of it.' Webster gets involved because Tourna hires his company to dig up dirt on Malin, who is 'the power behind the throne at the energy ministry' and 'a silent oligarch'.

The story moves slowly - from London to Russia, the Caymans, and Berlin, Germany - as Webster digs for leads. One of the first he finds is an article of Inessa's he had not read. Then a colleague of Lock's dies after Webster tries to meet with him - a warning? Malin sets an armed guard on Lock, who begins to seek a way out of the trap that he's in. He meets with Webster, whose family is threatened. They make a plan, but the best laid plans ... If it reflects any reality at all, The Silent Oligarch is a disturbing tale. It will not be of interest to all mystery fans, but if you're interested in international financial shenanigans, it's a must read.

Note: Opinions expressed in reviews and articles on this site are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of BookLoons.

Find more Mystery books on our Shelves or in our book Reviews