Trading Down by Stephen Norman
Published by Endeavour Press Ltd in 2017
The author spent many years working in a global investment bank and this, his debut novel, features a fast moving chase for a cunning cyber terrorist bent, for personal reasons, on crippling the bank’s infrastructure and bringing it to its knees in a gross act of sabotage. The protagonist Chris Peters, a very senior IT professional is responsible for the bank’s entire network and in a race against time must prevent the system from catastrophic meltdown from which the bank could never recover. He’s on the trail of the perpetrator, who he’s certain is an insider, after some nail biting incidents in the US and Hong Kong that he dismisses as freak occurrences, portend that there’s worse on the horizon. Chris himself comes under suspicion; trust between top key colleagues wears thin threatening to undermine the day-to-day business of the bank.The action switches between Sana’a in 2007, where a member of a local family goes missing and a huge ransom is demanded, and London in 2012 with the two strands entwining at the end of the story.The book is thoroughly researched, the plot well crafted and suspenseful and the illustration of the inner workings of the bank gripping. However, I must confess I found the constant application of IT and banking terms/ acronyms jars and the alternation between events in Yemen and the UK a little distracting.Characters, especially the men, are entirely credible as is the account of the souring relationship between the protagonist and his wife caused by his consuming obsession to nail the baddie behind it all. Dialogue is the author’s strong point and flows well. All in all, the novel is a promising start to a writing career.
Reviewer: Serena Fairfax