Financial fiction review: ‘Free to Trade’ by Michael Ridpath

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In this post I’m reviewing…

Free to Trade by Michael Ridpath

Financial fiction whodunnit in the high-stakes world of junk bonds.

OVERVIEW: In Michael Ridpath’s debut novel, ex-Olympic athlete Paul Murray is a junk bond trader in a small but successful firm. When one of his coworkers dies, he looks into the work she was doing before she died and uncovers more questions than answers. Even as the police are closing in on him as the main suspect, Murray investigates a complicated international scheme.

REVIEW: It seems like every financial fiction book I read, the main character is a high stakes trader and a runner. What’s with the running? It’s the same deal here. Paul Murray is a former Olympic athlete who works at a firm as a junk bond trader. In spite of finding evil people at every turn, and the police breathing down his neck, Murray uncovers an international scheme and solves his friend’s murder. There are plenty of red herrings along the way but by the end you pretty much know who the villain is before the main character does. The story moves at a pretty good pace although it felt like Ridpath wrote the climax of the book and then decided to stop — several strands in the book were left unsatisfyingly open.

FINANCIAL FICTION QUOTIENT: I don’t know a lot about junk bonds so I enjoyed this aspect of the book and wished that there was more. It was very approachable whether or not you know anything about the financial industry or junk bonds. Along with junk bonds, the main character pieces together the financial structure of an international fraud. The deal structuring was interesting but the character’s ability to put it all together (while fighting villains and investing his coworker’s death) was a little bit of a stretch.

SUMMARY: For a first novel, Ridpath’s book was good. Although now that he has several books under his belt, it would be curious to have him go back and revise the book now. I would read this book again.

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Published by Aaron Hoos

Aaron Hoos is a writer, strategist, and investor who builds and optimizes profitable sales funnels. He is the author of The Sales Funnel Bible and other books.