Book Review: 'The Darlings'

Feb 20, 2012
Originally published on February 20, 2012 4:54 pm
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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

It's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Audie Cornish.

A career as a financial analyst hasn't kept Christina Alger from moonlighting as a novelist. In fact, it's given her plenty of material. Her new book is called "The Darlings," and it's a work of fiction based on a Ponzi scheme we all know well.

ALAN CHEUSE, BYLINE: The novel takes place over Thanksgiving week 2008, when fabled investor Morty Reis - read Bernie Madoff - seems to have taken a fatal dive off a bridge just north of New York City. The repercussions are vast, as news of his demise roars through the family of billionaire financier Carter Darling, and through the lives of American investors, like a tsunami.

Paul, Darling's son-in-law and his firm's legal adviser, immediately becomes pulled in with not only his career, but also his marriage to Darling's daughter Merrill at stake.

Darling's other daughter, his wife, his mistress, who happens to be a very highly placed SEC official, all suffer the perils of their passions. This is nowhere near a great novel. There's some clunky language throughout and some silly asides, along with some acute observations of this high-living life.

But Christina Alger uses to great advantage her insider's knowledge of the financial industry and her awareness of the hard knocks the heart takes during a calamity, such as present-day investing sometimes produces. Invest your time in this one and it will pay you back.

CORNISH: "The Darlings" is the new book by Christina Alger. Our reviewer, Alan Cheuse, teaches writing at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.