Sobel Weber Associates, Inc.
- Black Fridays
- (Penguin Putnam)
- by Michael Sears
Nominated for the 2013 Edgar Award for Best First Novel, the Barry Award for Best First Novel, and the International Thriller Writers Award for Best First Novel
One of the most polished debut novels ever to come to us, BLACK FRIDAYS is an intelligent, well-paced, suspenseful novel with an unusually appealing narrator/protagonist.
A former top Wall Street trader who shouldered the blame for a financial scheme is emerging from a two-year prison term as we meet him. Having paid his dues, he’s now ready to get on with his life, but he’s forbidden involvement in the stock market, and his ex-wife, to whom he turned over funds for safekeeping, has run off with the money—and his young autistic son.
As he tries to rebuild his life and reconnect with his son, a call comes from the head of an investment firm with an assignment for him—to investigate his company for possible irregularities before the government finds them. The hunt leads to a trail of intrigue and deaths, and forces him to make hard choices, discovering in the process what is most important to him.
Because the novel rang so true, we asked Michael Sears how autobiographical it was. Here is his response.
BLACK FRIDAYS is not an autobiographical novel, but the world of Wall Street is one I know well, having worked there for over twenty years. I was a Managing Director in the bond trading and underwriting divisions of Paine Webber, and later, Jefferies & Co. Like my character, Jason Stafford, I was the first from my class at Columbia Business School to become a Managing Director. Before returning to graduate school, I supported myself in a variety of ways while pursuing a career as a professional actor working with the Shakespeare Theatre of Washington, the New Jersey Shakespeare Festival as well as in films and on television.
The story of BLACK FRIDAYS comes from two sources. The scam described is similar to a conspiracy uncovered by the FBI about ten years ago, code-named Operation Wooden Nickel. I followed the press coverage closely at the time as I knew some of the players involved. The temptations that Jason succumbs to, and that drag down other characters in the book, are well known to me.
The story of Jason and his autistic son is also tangentially personal. I have a cousin with an autistic child, and another with Asperger’s Syndrome – a related malady. Latest figures indicate that 1 in 70 male children are now being diagnosed with conditions on the autism spectrum. It is an epidemic which will soon touch all of us in some way. In the eighteen months I spent researching and writing the book, I developed a great understanding of and empathy for the life of a parent to an autistic child.