Book Review: Zero Alternative by Luca Pesaro

Posted May 9, 2014 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews / 2 Comments

Book Review: Zero Alternative by Luca PesaroZero Alternative by Luca Pesaro
Genres: Dystopian, Romantic Suspense, Thriller
Published by Three Hares Publishing on April 24, 2014
Pages: 386
Source: Author

A conspiracy thriller that delves deep — and I mean deep! — into the ins and outs of financial trading.

I received a Kindle copy from the author.

My Take
The first third of this was totally confusing with all the money stuff — probably why I don’t have any! But it also sets the mood and the background for Zero Alternative. After that, it is a series of mad chases and cloak-and-dagger antics with fake ID as he peels back more and more of the corruption behind how our world works.

Pesaro includes explanations that make sense to me. Hey, if I can understand it, it’s gotta be easy! How people screwed up the world of finance. Sure, bankers are easy to blame. God knows they do enough stupid stuff, and they make a convenient scapegoat, but Pesaro’s reasoning makes perfect sense, and when you get further into the story, oh boy. Makes you wish there really were a DeepOmega with a band of do-gooders behind it! Then there’s his analogy of morphine, how it can make a patient appear to be on the mend. His point about today’s finance simply playing with money, using money to make money, that “real wealth is production, resources, innovation” also makes perfect sense.

Pesaro’s protagonist is not someone you want to like — he’s a trader, part of the conspiracy even if he doesn’t know it. And yet, Pesaro makes him likable even as he’s letting the little head do his thinking, lol! That whole scene in the strip club sent me into the world of who cares what happens to him. I mean, after all of DM’s paranoia, well, if you’re gonna be stupid enough to fall for that trick…

Sure, he and DM are part of the problem, so to speak, but I like that they’re also working on the solution. His reactions are those of a decent man caught up in more than he understands, and still he pushes through. He’s even nice to Falena after all he learns! And DM…poor baby. A super smart guy with all that IQ’s social inability and little practical application as evidenced by his not even thinking of personal security. It did make me wonder how anyone can possibly function on that much dope…

Why bother feeding DeepShareBeta into DeepAlpha? Sure, Pesaro explained this as a maneuver for DM to hide further work on DeepOmega, but…why? Why not retire DeepAlpha and use DeepShareBeta?

Oh, please. If I were Walker, I’d insist on Fontaine’s promise in writing. I do love Walker’s solution to Fontaine’s demand — YES! And Hackernym’s ability to gather information is quite practical. Bad, but useful.

It seems as if bureaucracy is the deadweight of a country right along with everyday bribery. Too many laws equals more and more bureaucrats with too much of the collected taxes going to pay their salaries. Then the bribery. Have you noticed how those countries where bribery is so prevalent right down to man-on-the-street levels are the same ones which seem to be in the worst financial shape? Think about it.

Layla is a piece of work, and as much as I want to trust her, I can’t. I do appreciate all the soul-searching she goes through, but she’s just too shifty for me. It’s always something more, she never stops. At the airport, why didn’t she think of a tracker? She’s been quick enough to leap all over anyone else for being unprofessional.

How did Blackspring get to Mosha so fast if Layla was wearing the bug?

I love the ending. It’s like the movie Dave but on hypersteroids. Pesaro will keep you on your toes and railing at the world with this one.

The Story
Japan and Greece are gone, Spain is a German protectorate, and the continuing existence of the European Union is very much in question. The coming Italian elections will determine whether the world collapses into another Great Depression and if Yours can retire in comfort or get tossed out on his ear.

Betrayals, however, will force Yours to learn more than he wants of the true nature of finance and how it runs the world, even as Yours must run to survive and take down the men behind the world’s economy.

The Characters
Scott “Yours” Walker is a 36-year-old trader in London enjoying the good life and planning to leave this frenetic and greedy pace behind him. DM Khaing, the head of Dorfmann’s IT department, is a brilliant mathematician with incisive insight into computer algorithms. Hey, he designed and built DeepShare, a software program that datamines the Internet for everything and then makes connections, predicting the future! DeepAlpha is the first version and used by Dorfmann Brothers to plot their buying and selling. DeepShareBeta is the next version while DeepOmega is the super-secret version that only Yours and DM know about. They thought. Tsun, based in Hong Kong, is one of DM’s head quants. Jiwa-Sai Khaing is DM’s older brother and a colonel in the Swiss Army.

Dorfmann Brothers
Dorfmann Brothers is an investment bank. Stephane Buvier is a junior trader working under Yours. Anna Guarzelli is part of the bank’s risk management team. Jack Morden is one of Walker’s bosses. Gander is another junior trader. Chris “Beano” Friedman is the CEO of the London office with a harsh reputation. Olivier Fontaine is Yours’ other boss. A backstabbing Belgian with no morals or conscience; he’s head of all the dealers for Dorfmann. Mendes and Thomas Setter are two of Dorfmann’s most senior Volatility traders. Ralph House is a Flow trader while the sexy Alice Cramer is one of the salespeople.

Luigi Seu is an Italian over-the-counter broker and a good friend of Walker’s, who is godfather to Luigi’s three-year-old Lia. Susan is Luigi’s wife. Thank god they’re on vacation. Paolo Seu is his brother with some scary connections. Mosha Micovich is a Serbian friend and a hedge fund manager for the Mob family he married into.

The Dancing Snake is a high-end strip club where George is the manager. Falena is the most incredible stripper with a mission.

Layla is an independent contractor — ever since she fled her Mexican minders. Anton is Layla’s fixer. Rafa was the younger son of a Chiapas drug baron, a boy with dreams of a better, more normal life who still loved his papa.

Hackernym are cyber-pirates. Mention them at a casual gathering and watch the faces of the high and mighty close down. Mira is small time, the one with audio proof of who’s behind the dogs chasing Walker. Bill is the Old Man’s assistant while he’s Gerard Saffet, a financial legend.

Blackspring is a vicious mercenary group. François Pienaar is a psychopathic, murdering butcher who really enjoys his work and is either Australian or Zimbabwean. Sprague is one of their operatives.

Frankel Schwartz is THE godfather of investment banks and the rumors about them fly in conspiracy circles. Jim Zhu was DM’s deputy; now he’s turned up at Frankel Schwartz in a major role. Wendell Welsh is American and a main powerbroker.

Rossini is one of the presidential candidates in this Italian election, running on a promise to pull Italy out of the European Union. Officer Tarelli of the Ticino Police investigates a murder.

ORK is the electronic dealing system traders use to buy and sell shares, futures, and options. A quant is an expert at analyzing and managing quantitative data.

The Cover
I love the cover with its binary background of 0s and 1s in a black type against charcoal gray. The author’s name is in white while the title is a colonial blue with a man on the run on a wet street in the R and O.

The title is what Walker wants to give to the big boys — Zero Alternative.

Reviewed by Kathy Davie, who is fast gaining followers in Goodreads and Amazon for her honest book reviews. Passionate about reading, writing, and editing, she searches the Internet for tips, tricks, and warnings with a keen interest in ideas that will foster reading in children as well as adults while aiding writers in their craft. Kathy blogs daily at KD Did It Takes on Books.

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