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Written by Christopher ReichAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Christopher Reich


List Price: $7.99


On Sale: August 26, 2003
Pages: 0 | ISBN: 978-0-440-33454-5
Published by : Delacorte Press Bantam Dell

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Hailed as “the John Grisham of Wall Street” by the New York Times, Christopher Reich returns to the world he knows so well--the dangerous, dazzling world of high finance and international intrigue. In this ingeniously crafted thriller, the bestselling author of Numbered Account and The First Billion introduces his most complex and engaging hero yet: forensic accountant Adam Chapel--and paints a frightening scenario where terrorism is big business and money is the ultimate weapon of war…

The explosion that shatters the smart Parisian apartment reverberates around the globe. In an instant, a suspected terrorist is dead and half a million dollars has vanished. Within days, the CIA is certain it has found a connection between the dead man and a planned terrorist attack on U.S. soil. Determined to avert another 9/11, they have assembled an elite counterterrorist task force, code name: Blood Money. Its mission: to follow the money trail. Its secret weapon: forensic accountant Adam Chapel. A man who trusts numbers more than people, Chapel has his own reasons for wanting to get the job done-- four of his colleagues were killed in the Paris blast. Now Chapel is thrust back into the line of fire when he teams up with British intelligence agent Sarah Churchill. The two are assigned to hunt down a shadowy mastermind who is moving vast sums of money from country to country, from bank to bank, leaving no tracks--as he prepares for an Armaggedon of his own devising.

As Chapel follows a disappearing money trail from Paris to Munich to the deserts of Saudi Arabia, Sarah uses her elite training to stalk the “shadow” and his elusive network. Meanwhile, their quarry is auditing their every move, laying a twisting trail of false clues and shocking surprises. With the clock ticking down, soon Chapel and Sarah have only days, hours, minutes to avert disaster as a master terrorist plots to unleash the first strike in a brilliantly orchestrated conspiracy--with an almost unimaginable goal.

Hurtling us from the winding alleys of Pakistan to the elite banking houses of Europe, The Devil’s Banker creates an adrenaline-fueled world where following the money has never been more dangerous, and evil has never been harder to unmask.

From the Hardcover edition.



IT IS DIFFICULT TO WALK CASUALLY WITH FIVE HUNDRED thousand dollars taped to your belly. More difficult still when any of the men brushing past you would gladly slit your throat were they to suspect the king’s ransom you carried.

The man who had chosen the warrior’s name Abu Sayeed snaked through the alleys of the Smugglers’ Bazaar, careful to check his impatient step. He was close now, but he could not hurry. To hurry invited attention. And attention meant trouble he could not afford.

Around him, shopkeepers leaned in open doorways, smoking cigarettes and sipping cups of tea. He could sense their eyes upon him as they studied his bearing, gauging its strength, deciding whether he was a predator or prey. Instinctively, he stood straighter and thrust his chin forward. But all the while he kept his pace relaxed, his face slack, even as the claws dug into him.

The money was divided into fifty packets, each containing ten thousand dollars, each wrapped and waterproofed in transparent plastic. The packets had sharp, cruel corners that chafed and cut his flesh. He had been traveling for thirty-six hours. His chest and back were flayed as if scored by a cat-o’-nine tails. Only by thinking of the operation was he able to continue. The prospect of the infidels’ death invigorated him with the strength of the Pharaoh’s army.

At four p.m., the summer sun was at its fiercest. Dust devils arose on the dusty road, swirled lazily, then spun themselves out. After a brief lull, the bazaar was rousing itself to life. Beneath fluorescent lights, shelves sagged with cartons of Dunhill cigarettes, Toshiba laptops, and Paco Rabanne cologne, all brought overland from Afghanistan to avoid duty and tax. Other windows displayed less mundane goods: Kalashnikov rifles, Colt pistols, and Claymore mines. Hashish, heroin, even human chattel could be had at the right address. If there was a free market on earth, mused Sayeed, it was here on the western outskirts of Peshawar, the gateway to the Khyber Pass.

Stopping to purchase a cube of diced sugarcane, he cast his gaze behind him. His depthless black eyes scoured the street, checking for the misplaced face, the averted gaze, the anxious dawdler. So close, he must keep his senses keen. He did not believe that the crusaders knew his identity. Still, he must be cautious. Members of the American Special Forces infested Peshawar as lice infest a beast. Most were easy to spot, with their Oakley sunglasses, Casio watches, and desert boots. A few even dared enter the bazaar, where foreigners were not welcome and Pakistani law held no sway.

The thought of the Americans brought a contemptuous smile to his lips. Soon they would learn that they could not run. The fire was coming. It would burn them in their heartland. It would scald them from within.

And for a moment, the claws loosened their grip. The pain subsided, and he basked in the glow of destruction.

Satisfied his trail was clean, Sayeed spat out the sinewy cane and crossed the narrow road. To look at, he was no different from any of the thousands of souls who eked out an existence trafficking the porous border that separated Pakistan from Afghanistan. His shalwar kameez, the baggy shirt and trousers that made up the local dress, was filthy and stiff with dried sweat; his black headdress smothered with red alkali dust. His beard belonged to the most fervent of believers, as did the AK-47 he carried slung over a shoulder and the bejeweled dagger strapped to his calf.

But Sayeed was not Pakistani, nor was he a Pashtun from the southern provinces of Afghanistan, or an Uzbek from the north. Born Michael Christian Montgomery in London, England, Sayeed was the bastard offspring of a cancerous British officer and a teenage Egyptian whore. His father had died while he was a boy, leaving him a polished accent and not much more. Unable to care for him, his mother returned to Cairo and gave him over to the madrasas, the religious schools that gifted him with an Islamic education. His childhood was brutish and short. It was a natural progression to the camps where he learned the creed of the gun, memorized the verse of violence, and worshiped at the altar of rebellion. And from there to the killing fields of Palestine, Chechnya, and Serbia.

At twenty, the Sheikh found him.

At twenty-one, Michael Christian Montgomery ceased to exist. It was Abu Mohammed Sayeed who swore the oath, accepted the mark, and joined Hijira.

Skirting a convoy of carts piled high with Korean fabrics, Tibetan rugs, and Panasonic televisions still in their factory packaging, he reached the Tikram Mosque. The doors were open, and inside the shadowy hall, a few men lay on prayer rugs, prostrate in worship. His eyes returned to the street. Scanning the intersection ahead, he felt a new pain lash his back. This time, however, it was not the jagged belt that provoked his discomfort. It was fear. He could not see the store. Somehow, he had taken a wrong turn. He was lost.

Frantically, Sayeed turned his head this way and that. It could not be. He was at the Tikram Mosque. He had seen the photographs. He had studied the maps. Despair washed over him. Others were waiting. The countdown had begun. Seven days. The thought of failure turned his bowels to water.

Terrified, he wandered into the street. A horn blared in his ear, loud, very loud, but from another universe altogether. Sayeed jumped back a step and a jitney lumbered past, passengers hanging from the doors, clinging to the luggage rack. In its wake, a cloud of rank exhaust choked the already oppressive air. He could not go on. He could not go back. Truly, he was damned.

The exhaust dissipated and he saw it. The gold letters emblazoned on a black field. “Bhatia’s Gold and Precious Jewelry.” His despair vanished. In its place came joy. The light of a thousand suns.

“Insh’allah, God is great,” he whispered, a bolt of piety swelling his heart.

Guards stood on either side of the doorway, Kalashnikovs to their chests, fingers tickling the trigger guard. Sayeed passed them without a glance. They were not there to protect jewelry, but cash, primarily U.S. dollars, and gold ingots. Bhatia’s reputation as a jeweler might be suspect, but his trustworthiness as a hawaladar, or money broker, was unquestioned. Faisan Bhatia had long served the local smuggling community as its agent of choice. He was the only broker in the region able to handle the large sums that Abu Sayeed required.

In Arabic, hawala means “to change.” And in Hindi, “trust.” Put simply, it was the hawala broker’s job to effect transfers of cash from one city to another. Some of his clients were traders eager to repatriate their earnings after selling their haul in the bazaar. Others, simple folk wishing to send money home to loved ones in Karachi, Delhi, or Dubai. Both groups shared a distrust of the bureaucracy and paperwork demanded by the country’s less-than-solvent banks. For them, hawala was a welcome alternative. A system built on trust, hidden from intrusive eyes. A system that had been in place when Arab traders plied the Silk Road hundreds of years ago.

Bhatia, a fat Indian with a streak of gray in his hair, stood imperiously behind the counter. As Sayeed approached, he eyed the customer’s caked clothing and unwashed face with undisguised contempt.

“I would like to make a transfer,” Abu Sayeed whispered when he was close enough to taste the man’s breath. “It is a matter of some urgency.”

The Indian did not move.

“The Sheikh sent me.”

Faisan Bhatia’s eyes flickered, but only for an instant. “Come this way.”

From the Hardcover edition.
Christopher Reich|Author Q&A

About Christopher Reich

Christopher Reich - The Devil's Banker

Photo © Katja Reich

Christopher Reich is the New York Times bestselling author of Rules of Deception, Numbered Account and The Patriot’s Club, which won the International Thriller Writers Award for best novel in 2006.  He lives in California with his family.

Author Q&A

Q: Where do you get your ideas?

A: Reading. I read and read and read. Newspapers, magazines, the Internet--you name it, I try and suck it up and find something interesting inside of it. I like to think of international finance as my bailiwick, so I start from there. Usually, a story will catch my interest and I'll wonder if there's enough material there to sustain a book. Then I start on the personal angle. What's the hook? The crux of the story that will drive a reader to gulp down 450 pages? From there, it's hopscotch all over the place. First I do the research, then I construct the story around interesting, knowledgeable people. The hardest part is always the character stuff- making the hero grow and come out a better person at the other side of things. Without a really compelling hero or heroine, the best "hook" is never more than that- a quirky little attention getter. By the way, I don't own a television set. As parents of two young daughters, my wife and I feel strongly that TV is a wildly negative influence on kids' minds... and adults too, most of the time. The only stuff I used to watch was the news and Biography on A&E, but now even CNN's hard to look at, with all that gibberish dancing on every available square inch of the screen. Mostly what I hate is how dumb the news is. It's time our media gives us the benefit of the doubt. We're smarter than that.

Q: How do you work?

A: Writing is a job, just like anything else. Often I think the deciding factor in who can make a career as a successful author is the ability to sit in a chair for eight hours a day (or however long one needs to write) and simply get the book written. There are so many distractions and a writer can't wait for the "muse" to land on his shoulder. I try and hit my desk by 8:15 and will work until noon. Usually, I eat lunch out somewhere nearby with my wife, then get back to it at 1:30 or 2. Those are the hardest hours. Frankly, I'd rather be napping, or playing golf. Then around 4:00 the engine really starts up again, and I'm able to get a solid ninety minutes in before dinner. The thing about writing is that it isn't constant or linear. What I mean is that you can start the day writing four great pages and then not be able to add a single thing to it. Or you can crank out an entire chapter in two hours and then spend the next two days getting it right. Usually, though, it's slow and steady. Two pages in the morning. Two in the afternoon. After six months, you've got a good stack of paper on your desk. Still, I can't think of a better way to make a living. I used to be an investment banker and the thought of those fourteen-hour days cooped up inside a skyscraper is enough to give me the shivers. No thanks. You can keep your five million dollar salaries...then again, five mil is pretty good...

Q: What do you do to relax?

A: By nature I'm a high-strung person. One of those guys that can't stand still for too long. I love to golf, but it's hard to find six hours to just disappear, especially with two awesome daughters who I love to play with. I try to run a few times a week...nothing serious, a quick ten-mile loop, then a few dozen wind sprints. Just kidding! If I make it three miles before wimping out, I'm lucky. I like to get to the gym, too, but that seems to be happening ever less frequently. My wife and I love the movies. Whenever there's something that does not center around car chases, evil cops, towering infernos, or anything with the word "Matrix" in it, we jump at the chance to go see it. Our favorite film last year was "Unfaithful" starring Diane Lane, Richard Gere, and that French guy whose name my wife keeps mumbling when she's asleep. Talk about a hard hitting movie! And if Diane Lane ever reads this: "Girl, you was robbed!" I'm looking forward to the new Tom Cruise movie, "The Last Samurai." Music-wise, I'm digging the live version of U2's "Beautiful Day," John Mayer's album "Room for Squares," and from the oldies bin, "Physical Graffiti" by Led Zeppelin. And, of course, anything by Oscar Peterson, my all time favorite. Naturally, I love to read too. I just polished off Ghost Soldiers by Hampton Sides and loved it. The Human Stain by Philip Roth was a great read. Genius at work! I'm waiting with baited breath for the new Le Carre. Everything stops around our house when his books hit the stands. Everything I learned about writing, I got from Le Carre.

Q: What's the next one about?

A: I'm just starting digging on the new one, but it will center around these giant private equity firms that currently control a lot of the biggest U.S. defense companies and employ former U.S. government officials. The potential for conflict of interest is so huge, the smell of corruption so rank, that even if these guys aren't guilty, they should be! So far, I've got the best villain I've come up with and a great hero. The rest is a work in progress!

From the Hardcover edition.



"This smart, fast-paced read shuttles between Wall Street finance and the Eastern paperless hawala banking system--and makes both sound surprisingly cool."
--Entertainment Weekly

From the Hardcover edition.

  • The Devil's Banker by Christopher Reich
  • August 03, 2004
  • Fiction; Fiction - Thrillers
  • Dell
  • $7.99
  • 9780440241423

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