Paul E(mil) Erdman Alfred L. Malabre, Jr. - Essay

Alfred L. Malabre, Jr.

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

One of the troubles with most novels that attempt to treat financial topics is that the people who write them are normally novelists only, rather than novelists-and-financiers, and consequently often don't have much inside understanding of the characters and situations that inevitably arise. This is an unfortunate fact, inasmuch as the world of high—and low—finance should provide fascinating grist for a novel. All too rarely, it does.

This paucity, we are happy to report, has been at least temporarily remedied, for we have a new novel titled "The Billion Dollar Sure Thing" from Paul E. Erdman, a man who, however briefly, was in fact a financial insider as well, later, as an insider at a Swiss prison after the Swiss-based bank that he headed failed amid charges of illegal activities at the bank….

Not only does he know banking, particularly the highly secretive Swiss variety, but Mr. Erdman also knows reasonably well how to write in a suspenseful, readable fashion. No work of art, certainly, "The Billion Dollar Sure Thing" is nonetheless an absorbing bit of fancy that imagines a situation (is it really that fanciful?) where the President of the U.S. secretly decides to increase the official price of gold to $125 per ounce, roughly triple today's actual official level.

The secret, of course, gets into the wrong hands—a gnomish Swiss banker, a mischievous Russian, a Mafia-linked wheeler-dealer...

(The entire section is 422 words.)