(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

The Chicago Board of Trade, the home of the futures market, is sometimes described as the “last frontier” of capitalism. The only requirement for entry is sufficient funds to cover any losses, and the willingness to “trade or die.” It is a cockpit in which fortunes are literally made and lost in a moment.

In this volatile world in which rules and regulations, civilized behavior and morality, honesty and trust are noticeable only by their absence, Joanie Yff (rhymes with if) is determined to make her way to the top of the heap. She is beautiful and bright, exceptionally so in fact, and therein lies the tale.

Her manifest beauty attracts the attention of Ken Korngold, a prominent trader who hires Yff as a clerk and mistress in training, He quickly learns, however, that she is far more than just a pretty face; and soon she is on her own as a full-fledged trader--putting her expertise and the courage of her convictions on the line in a no-holds-barred struggle for fame and fortune. The struggle is made all the more difficult when Korngold turns against her and initiates a devious campaign designed to leave her penniless.

The Chicago Board of Trade is an excellent locale for a work of fiction, inasmuch as the reality is so fantastic that even an exaggerated portrayal can only scratch the surface. Admittedly, Brashler’s novel requires a familiarity with detail which the average reader does not possess. Moreover, his careful recitation of streets traveled and buildings entered verges on the tedious. Still, the story is compelling, the characters fully realized, the dialogue accurate, and the action sequences carefully constructed so as to fully involve the reader. The Chicago Board of Trade is clearly a nice place to visit, but only the most foolhardy would wish to live there.