Review: The Darlings by Cristina Alger

The economy is in a downward spiral and no one knows this better than those in the world of high finance. On Wall Street on of the leaders in the world of hedge funds and wealth is billionaire Carter Darling.

The Darling family is well known in the powerful circles of New York City’s elite upper class….a world where a house in the Hamptons, offshore bank accounts, hedge funds, corporate corruption, tabloid gossip, and extra marital affairs are all a common part of the society.  

When attorney Paul Ross married Carter Darling’s daughter, Merrill, he knew what he was getting into but what he didn’t know was he would be caught right in the middle of a red hot scandal.

When Paul loses his job at his current law firm, Carter steps in and offers him a job as general counsel for his hedge fund corporation, Delphic. Though he is a little weary, Paul accepts it anyway.

On a stormy night in New York a close colleague of Carter’s, Morty Reis, commits suicide which triggers a SEC investigation with possible criminal charges, into the financial transactions happening at Delphic. 

The Darling family sees the writing on the wall….they are in serious trouble. Someone in the firm is running a massive Ponzi scheme and the public is going to want to see someone pay for the billions of dollars lost.

But there are lots of lingering questions….who know what? How much did Carter Darling know about the fraud? Was his lawyer Sol involved? Who is leaking information to the SEC? Was someone at Delphic bribing high ranking officials at SEC to not investigate Delphic?

One thing is clear though, someone must take the fall for the fraud…..but who? The logical person is Paul, he is a high ranking member of Delphic and he is their general counsel, he should have known what was going on even if he’s only been there for two months.

Paul must discover the truth before he is named in the criminal case. All of the narratives intertwine to try and untangle the truth or cover up their crimes….between the Darling family, two eager SEC attorneys, and a team of journalists all of them are trying to cover their tracks.

Cristina Alger clearly knows her way around the world of high finance and wealth. I don’t really know anything about the financial world so I was extremely impressed with her knowledge on the subject!

This should have been a novel that I really enjoyed, I love reading about the extremely wealthy and I love a good financial thriller but for some reason this just didn’t do it for me. Yes it was interesting and yes I loved that it was modeled after a real life case (the Bernie Madoff case), but it just didn’t pack the punch that I was hoping for.

I thought the novel had a lot of great potential…..but for me there was a lot of missed opportunities to make the story really thrilling. I think it would have helped to have a stronger protagonist and a clearly defined villain. Personally I had a hard time distinguishing the character roles etc.

It would also have been nice to really examine the moral issues the novel raised. For example, I was really thinking about the concept of family loyalty and professional loyalty…do we have an obligation to be whistleblowers when it comes to our work? How does that change when family is involved? I don’t feel like these were things that were fully explored and answered in this book.

Over all I just felt like there were too many narrative voices that I had a hard time keeping them straight. It seemed like we only got little pieces of the story instead of fuller sketches.

Though there were things about the novel I wasn’t impressed with, I thought the overall concept was intriguing. I loved that it was a more modern tale that has direct roots in all of our lives….the economy. As I mentioned before I don’t know a lot about the world of high finance so I really liked learning about it. I think this novel is still worth a read even if the family drama was wanting, the general plot was engaging.

It would also be a good book for book clubs/groups. There is a lot to discuss even if the story itself didn’t, I think there is a lot that could get people talking and generate a lot of pertinent conversations.

Challenge/Book Summary:

Book: The Darlings by Cristina Alger

  • Paperback, 352 pages
  • Expected publication: December 24th 2012 by Penguin Books (first published February 16th 2012)
  • ISBN 0143122754 (ISBN13: 9780143122753)
  • Review copy provided by: Penguin Books Publishing in exchange for an honest review.

This book counts toward: NA

  • Hosted by: NA
  • Books for Challenge Completed: NA

Recommendation: 3 out of 5 (a financial thriller set in the shadows of the economic melt down)

Genre: General fiction, contempo fiction, thriller, financial thriller

Memorable lines/quotes: 

I never said you did nothing wrong….I said that you would never do anything stupid. There’s a difference.

2 thoughts on “Review: The Darlings by Cristina Alger

  1. The world of finance, I must admit, goes over my head. I don’t know why but numbers have never made sense to me. I can barely figure out how to make sense of my bank statement 😛 This family described reminds me of the Graysons in the show Revenge. Would that be an accurate comparison?

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