Financial fiction review: ‘The Capitol Game’ by Brian Haig

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In this post I’m reviewing…

The Capitol Game by Brian Haig

High stakes corporate takeover… but is someone getting swindled?

OVERVIEW: Brian Haig brings readers into the high stakes world of corporate takeover. In this story, Jack Wiley brings a struggling chemicals company to a private equity firm, tempting them with billions of dollars from government military defense spending. The firm jumps at the deal and puts a plan in motion to rake in their cash… at all costs. They willingly cut corners and do shadowy deals until things start to unwind and the deal takes twists and turns that they never expected. And in the final chapter of the book, all the threads are brought together in a huge twist.

REVIEW: Brian Haig is an accomplished writer with several political/financial fiction dramas under his belt. What I like about the story is that it’s all about big money, big deals, big egos, and the edge-of-your-seat excitement of pitching deals, negotiating, and raking in stacks of cash… all the elements that a financial fiction aficionado loves. My favorite part of the book was the very beginning when Jack Wiley brings the deal to the private equity company and then negotiates a huge deal.

My biggest complaint is that the story really felt like it lacked a main character that you could root for. Jack Wiley was presented in the earlier chapters as the main character and there were times when you were really cheering for him to win… but you never get close enough to him to get emotionally connected. The author likely did this so that he could reveal the big twist at the end of the book (which, unfortunately, was pretty easy to guess by about halfway through the book). But that writing choice really hurt the book because the “main character” (if you could call him that) tended to disappear for pages on end and you never really knew what he was thinking or feeling or why he’d choose to do one thing over another. In fact, you knew much more of what most of the other characters were thinking or doing compared to the main character. So it became hard to care for the main character or understand why he did various things. And when the big twist was finally revealed, It uncovered a huge flaw in the story (but I can’t give away too much because I don’t want to spoil the story for someone else). I think an example of how an author does a better job of handling this type of character connection and “big reveal” at the end is in Grisham’s The Runaway Jury.

FINANCIAL FICTION QUOTIENT: This book straddles the line between financial fiction and political fiction and it explores the shadowy underbelly of each arena. I’m calling it a financial fiction book because it really is — it’s the story of a big financial deal in the world of private equity and the political triumphs and catastrophes that result. As far as financial fiction goes, this book is pretty easy to follow, even for someone with little or not financial background. The only numbers are just dollar figures, which anyone can easily follow. So there is a lot about private equity and deal-making in here (especially at the very beginning) but it’s not intimidating at all.

SUMMARY: Haig is a good writer and although I could see the twist coming from a mile away, the style was engaging enough for me to want to finish the book and the story was satisfying. I was happy with the financial quotient in the book and found that it supported the story rather than distracted from it. I wished for more twists that I didn’t see coming and I really wanted to get more involved in the main character’s life.

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