Neil Behrmann has pulled off a literary coup with Trader Jack. He has crossed the frontier of financial commentary – where his penetrating analysis has earned a global reputation for exceptional quality – into the world of fiction and created a gem.
This is not just a financial thriller which keeps the reader spell-bound through a roller-coaster ride in market speculation, but it deeply stirs the emotions – in particular anguish for the lead character, Jack. Some may see in him the alienated outsider, but he is also a descendant of Voltaire’s naive, gullible ingénue. Jack’s lonely journey is through the darkness of the casino-land called global financial markets. It is populated by villains, but he also encounters real goodness.
The gripping story which I couldn’t put down, is in its deepest sense, a scathing indictment of shallowness, greed and hubris, interspersed with humour of the absurd. Trader Jack will bemuse and entrance all those lucky enough to find their way to it
– — Brendan Brown, author of Euro Crash and Executive Director and Chief Economist of Mitsubishi UFJ Securities International.
5.0 out of 5 stars Waiting for the film…., 13 Dec 2011
Books that I take on holiday usually take a long time to read. Not this one! As if by magic, I immediately became Trader Jack: ‘This was my story. Jazz and I were no strangers. In next to no time I lost reality, the real me, and here I was, locked up having lived through a life of extraordinary activity, knowing times of abject poverty, discovering a world of wealth and intrigue, skipping my maturing years in exchange for adventure beyond my wildest dreams, experiencing acceptance and rejection, friendship, jealousy, trust and scheming, learning to handle wealth and success, disaster and flop, and relating it all from my cell, but waiting alongside those to whom I was narrating my story, to discover just why I was here, and my fate.’
That is precisely what happened to me as I turned the pages of Trader Jack and perhaps explains my reluctance to put the book down. I never forgot my dad’s fish and chip shop, and think about Trader Jack whenever I now go to my local fryer. And thanks to ‘my story’, no cup of coffee can be consumed without recalling coffee trading. It is obvious that Neil Behrmann has extensive knowledge of how markets work and how hedge funds operate. I much admired his ability to incorporate this understanding into ‘my story’ without for a moment losing the plot.
By the time I had arrived at the last page, I must admit to being less than sure as to whether I, like Jack, should have been in that cell. I wondered whether I might have acted in a different way. Probably not. And by the way the sex was great too. And I can’t wait for the film.
This is quite a remarkable book. As you get into it, it becomes ‘unputdownable’. One wants to know where it is going. A very strong plot and very good characterisations. Some of the financial ins and outs are above my head, but that does not detract from the book’s appeal. For the financially literate, the skulduggery in the jungle will be fascinating. What a mix of people and sub-plots and yet it hangs together. Bravo!! I see this is going to be a series. Very good idea. The Americans and Canadians do this sort of thing very well – always the same central character. It’s a formula that works. As a reader of these novels may I offer a couple of tips: Jack is still at the blundering stage, sensing his way through the money jungle, but he is not yet the sure-footed character he should be. Actually, he has not developed any ethics yet. This won’t do at all. He must be an immediate judge of character, which means he can’t be smitten by untrustworthy girls. Also, writing that nasty letter to his benefactor, under pressure from the awful girl he is pursuing, would be out of keeping with Jack’s essential decency! Not only must jack have clear ethics, but he can’t have partners who land him in prison. In behaviour, skills, relationships, he has to be perfect (even if unrealistically so). People want a hero. If he will be setting off now in pursuit of diamond crooks it will be easy to reshape him
— Stanley Uys former London Editor, Rand Daily Mail and contributor to the Guardian, Observer, BBC and others.
Having read this story while the row over the Euro is blowing up, I would agree with the blurb – Trader Jack is a “gripping story” and a real page-turner. Just as in life right now we want to know what will happen to our pensions, jobs and savings, so in this tale we want to know how Jack Miner will survive, putting all his future into the world of hedge funds and short selling. Like Dickens with Oliver Twist, Neil Behrmann uses the young hero to show up the corrupt and manipulative adult world – in this case, not crooked beadles and housebreakers, but the rather larger villains of international trading and the manipulation of commodities (with all their knock-on effect for the poor of the world) . Unlike Oliver, though, Jack has an emotional hinterland, and as the plot moved on I began to wonder, was he less Oliver and more the Artful Dodger? I had to read on to find out, and also to meet a Dickensian sweep of colourful characters. Running throughout the novel is a debate about the risks the western world is facing from the movement of enormous sums of money – to the lay reader like myself an arcane subject, but one to which Neil Behrmann gives a human face. This thriller stands alongside John Lanchester’s Whoops in giving insight into the extraordinary world of the money market of today — Former School Principal & currently teaching literature at Adult Education Centre
He added in correspondence later: Several of our students have read or are reading the book and commenting very favourably.
This is a very interesting book about a northern lad (who doesn’t speak with a northern accent) coming to London and becoming big but ultimately failing because of greed, stupidity and crime. The author explains the market really well but unfortunately doesn’t explain the really complex trader deals which would have given the book even more insight. The morality of the story is very complex too as at the start you think that the author wants high commodity prices to help the Brazilian farmers (which Jack does at a much bigger profit to himself) but at the end of the book Jack is attacked for pushing prices up so much that the poor can’t afford to eat. I think the author wants the reader to decide whether Jack is a villain or not and the book is very sympathetic to Jack but you can’t really ignore that his only interest is material, money money money and doesn’t seem to care how he makes it, who makes it for him, or what the global effects will be. The irony is that when, as you always know, he loses it all – he doesn’t seem that bothered. Good book and worth buying if you are interested in the market.
— Rupert B
Just finished reading Trader Jack – a great story with some truth behind the tale. I had major dental surgery on Wed – 6 hours – so used the time at home to read your book. I look forward to the next one!
Best Simon Hunt (Highly reputed Metals Consultant)
I have to agree with the blurb that this book is a real page turner. I’m a bit of an amateur investor, and I’ve also been very interested in trying to understand why people in the last 20 years took such risks leveraging their money to the extent that a single glitch could take out a whole system. This book is not about the recent market crashes, but it takes an inside look at the type of environments in which this kind of investment practice could develop. Jack Miner is a young man who is a natural investor who seems to have a knack at making all the right choices, even though it’s not his area of expertise. What starts off as innocent fun quickly snowballs into a situation that is so complex that Jack finds himself swept away into a completely new life. Trader Jack is so full of intrigue, suspense, romance and action that you’ll find yourself quickly caught up in the story, always wanting to know what happens next. I can’t wait for book two to see what happens next!
J. Pritchard, Texas publisher
EMAIL RECEIVED FROM BRAZIL (there are Trader Jack scenes there)
Dear Neil, how are you?
My name is Janaina Gimael, I´m a Brazilian journalist. I´m writing because I read your book “Trader Jack” and I loved it! It was great to read a fiction story that can also say a lot about how markets work in a very nice way of writing. I´d like to suggest your book, telling a bit about it and also sending a few questions for you through email if it was possible. I´m sure the readers would love it and as it´s possible to read it through IPAD (as we did), it wouldn´t be a problem the fact it´s not in Brazilian Market yet. What do you think? It would be possible? Oops: And sorry for my mistakes in English!!
Have just finished reading Trader Jack and very much enjoyed it .I am just off to swim at the lido one of Jacks haunts possibly followed by ‘wolfing down breakfast at the cafe on the Heath’. I seem to recognise a number of locations.
I am writing to tell you that I have just finished reading Trader Jack which I much enjoyed and could not put down. Amanda is pleased I have now finished the book as she felt she had lost me to Jack Miner!