Restitutionby Lee Vance
Peter Tyler appears to have it all—a loving wife, a powerful job on Wall Street, a sprawling house in the suburbs. But in a moment of weakness, Peter indulges in a one-night stand with a beautiful trader. A few weeks later, his house is broken into and his wife brutally murdered. When the police discover Peter's infidelity, he immediately goes from grieving
Peter Tyler appears to have it all—a loving wife, a powerful job on Wall Street, a sprawling house in the suburbs. But in a moment of weakness, Peter indulges in a one-night stand with a beautiful trader. A few weeks later, his house is broken into and his wife brutally murdered. When the police discover Peter's infidelity, he immediately goes from grieving husband to prime suspect. Suddenly, it's up to Peter to prove his own innocence and find his wife's killer. Written with ferocity and at a lightning pace, Restitution marks the debut of an intelligent and exciting new novelist.
The New York Times
The plot setup of this debut thriller may sound familiar, if not trite: husband and wife in troubled marriage; wife found murdered; police focus on husband as prime suspect; husband must find wife's killer and clear his name. Fortunately, Vance does more than just embroider this theme. After the authorities accuse Peter Tyler, a kingpin at the Wall Street financial firm of Klein and Klein, of his wife's murder, Peter gets entangled in money scams, stolen art, a pharmaceutical giant and a brilliant, ruthless and byzantine act of vengeance. Peter's best friend, Russian business tycoon Andrei Zhilina, may hold the key, but not even Andrei's twin sister, Katya, has been able to contact Andrei in his Moscow office. Peter embarks on a strongly cinematic quest, which takes him from plush Manhattan offices and the Harvard Club to deserted warehouses and meetings with Moscow toughs. Vance's ambitious story line hangs together remarkably well, providing depth and surprises to what otherwise might have been just another fugitive action tale. 100,000 copies. (July)Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
- Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
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- 6.92(w) x 10.88(h) x 1.14(d)
Read an Excerpt
“Eleven,” Tigger crows triumphantly, his shot caroming off the plastic backboard into the hoop. “You got the yips big time today. That’s eight hundred bucks you owe me.”
“Double or nothing again,” I say, rising to gather the Nerf balls scattered across my office floor. Glancing through the glass wall over-looking the trading desks, I notice several heads turn abruptly. The junior guys bet on our games. They can’t see the basket hanging from the door, but it’s common knowledge that the loser collects the balls. Having the guys on the trading floor see me drop four games in a row pisses me off almost as much as losing them.
“House rules,” Tigger says. “Five-hundred-dollar game limit.”
“House rules,” I agree. “And whose house is it?”
“Bad form, Peter. Rules are the basis of civilization.”
Tigger’s Brooklyn vowels defeat his attempt at sounding cultured, marking him as an old-timer, one of the last guys to get a field promotion before Wall Street began recruiting professionals exclusively from the Ivy League. A small man in his early fifties, Tigger has a potbelly, fleshy cheeks, protuberant eyes, and an overly large head. He was my first boss, and still corrects me freely, despite the fact that I long since passed him in the corporate hierarchy.
“Eight hundred bucks,” I say, grabbing a ball under his chair. “Big money. You could upgrade your entire wardrobe and use the other four hundred to have a HAZMAT team haul off the old stuff.”
“Never buy anything that doesn’t come in a three-pack. What’d you pay for that tie?”
“Hundred and ten maybe,” I say, glancing down at the chain-link pattern. “In an airport. Retail’s one forty.”
“You’re wearin’ a hundred-and-ten-dollar tie that was made in China for fifty cents. You buy twenty-five-dollar hamburgers uptown and get hundred-dollar haircuts from guys with one name. I got a responsibility to take money off you because you’re so fuckin’ stupid with it.”
Keisha opens the door while I’m on all fours, fumbling for a ball under the couch.
“Josh is on your personal line. He needs to speak to you urgently,” she says, rolling her eyes.
Josh is my boss, the head of Klein and Klein, a former banker from the Rust Belt who’s gradually taken on the grandeur of an Ottoman Empire pasha. Everything’s urgent. It’s just a matter of time until he begins referring to himself in the third person. I pick up the phone.
“Hold for Josh,” his breathless secretary whispers.
“Hold for Josh,” I say to Tigger, squeezing the mute button on the receiver. “What kind of asshole can’t make his own phone calls?”
“Don’t give him any money,” Tigger warns. “Third quarter ends this Friday. We already made budget, and I want to go into bonus season with a tailwind.”
“Peter,” a bluff voice booms into the receiver, “how are we doing today?”
“Fine,” I reply, thumbing down the volume. All the clients he used to cover must have been deaf. “Dollar’s weaker, oil’s higher, and bonds are soft. Generally good for us.”
“Excellent,” he says, not sounding particularly thrilled. “I’m a little concerned this morning, Peter. I’ve been looking at the firm-wide risk report.”
“I’m sorry to hear that, Josh,” I say, mentally appending the words because you don’t understand it. “What seems to be the problem?”
“Controllers is suggesting that we’ve got our Japanese credit curve marked too wide. We’re already under pressure to make numbers this quarter, and I don’t want any unpleasant surprises.”
“The curve is quoted as a yield spread over governments, Josh. We’re long the underlying corporates and short the JGBs.” I pause to let him get flustered. Josh has always been a relationship guy, his primary skill chatting up beefy CEOs on the links. His ignorance of basic market conventions is a source of constant amusement to the trading side of the firm.
“Your point being?” he asks warily.
“The value of the spread moves inversely to the value of our position. Controllers is accusing us of hiding profits, not losses.”
Tigger’s cracking up, both hands covering his mouth. I flash him a quick grin, but I have to credit Josh for asking questions. He’s the one who will end up taking the heat if anything ever goes really bad, an all-too common occurrence at financial firms like ours. Byzantine frauds brought massifs like Enron, Barings, and Solomon Brothers to their knees virtually overnight, their humiliated management’s only defense that they were too dumb or inattentive to know what was going on. At least Josh is trying.
“We aren’t supposed to be hiding anything,” he says primly, glossing over his misunderstanding. “Which brings me to a second reason for my concern. Some of our banking fees have been unexpectedly pushed back to next month. We need to dig deep if we’re going to meet the analysts’ projections.”
Right. You’re only as good as your most recent performance on Wall Street, and the bankers are busy playing the same game we are, trying to defer as much revenue as possible into the fourth quarter so they can look like heroes just before bonuses are decided.
“I’d love to lend a hand, Josh, but the cupboard’s bare. We marked that Japanese credit spread wide because we have liquidity issues. We’re long more than a hundred and twenty yards of corporates, and the market’s only bid for about ten.”
Tigger gives me two thumbs-up. Josh is silent.
“A yard’s a billion yen,” I add helpfully, knowing there’s no chance that Josh can convert yen to dollars in his head.
“So you’re saying it wouldn’t be prudent to take profit at this point?” he asks after another brief pause.
He sighs like a man carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders, but I’m not buying it. An ex-banker like Josh has to know that his former cohorts are sandbagging him, and there’s no reason why my guys should pick up the slack. Whatever fees Josh needs from them to make the firm’s numbers will miraculously rematerialize before Friday.
“One more thing, Peter,” he says. “William Turndale called this morning while I was at breakfast. Is there anything I should know before I get back to him?”
William Turndale is the CEO of Turndale and Company, an asset management firm that’s one of our most important clients. He’s generally agreed to be the biggest prick on Wall Street, which is a bit like having the largest shoe size in the NBA—it’s not likely that he’s calling Josh to tell him what a terrific job we’re doing. Pasha or no, even the head of a Fortune 100 investment bank has to take shit from customers.
“Hang on a second.” I press the mute button and look over at Tigger. “We got any problems with Turndale that you know about?”
“They’re always bitchin’ about something,” he says, shrugging. “But I haven’t heard about anythin’ particular.”
“We don’t know why he’s calling,” I say into the phone.
“All right,” Josh says wearily. “I’ll give him a ring back and see what he wants.”
“Let me know if there’s a problem. And by the way, Tigger’s sitting here with me, and he just passed me a note. He thinks we might be able to shake some cash loose from that Japanese corporate position. I’ll look into it and get back to you.”
Tigger jerks upright in his chair, sputtering a protest. I touch a finger to my lips.
“That’s great, Peter,” Josh says, sounding a bit more cheerful. “Thanks very much. Everything good at home?”
“Terrific. Thanks for asking.”
“You be sure to send Jenna my best.”
Josh has a three-by-five card in his Rolodex listing my birthday, my schools, and my wife’s name. In season he congratulates me every time my old team wins, never missing the opportunity to add a personal touch.
“I will. And keep me posted on Turndale, please.”
He hangs up. I smack the release button on my phone turret with the back of the receiver and drop the handset on the desk.
“He sends his best to Jenna,” I say to Tigger.
“Douche bag,” Tigger says, glaring.
“Be nice. You’re talking about our fearful leader.”
“The hell I am. I’m talkin’ about you. What the fuck are you doin’, tellin’ him I said we could take profit on our Japanese position?”
“Sometimes you gotta go along to get along,” I say, mimicking Tigger’s accent. “Who used to tell me that?”
“You go along with guys that are gonna go along with you. Next time we got a problem here, Josh is gonna have trouble rememberin’ your name. You know that.”
“Maybe the next time is now. William Turndale’s got to be calling about something.”
Tigger stares into space for a second, thinking, and then gives a reluctant nod. “Good point,” he says sourly. “I never met a guy that rich and that miserable. You gonna call Katya?”
I feel myself flush and hunch forward to recover an orange Nerf ball from underneath my desk. Katya’s the number two at Turndale, an old friend who’s helped us out of hot water with William in the past. I haven’t gotten around to telling Tigger that she’s probably not a friend anymore. Calling her wouldn’t be a good idea.
“Let’s wait and find out what’s going on first,” I reply, my face still hidden. “No reason to tee up a favor we might not need. Katya never does anything without demanding a quid pro quo.”
“Sweet as pie and tough as nails,” Tigger says approvingly. “My kind of girl.” He claps his hands together and sighs as I emerge with the ball. “I find out one of our guys hasn’t told me about a screwup with Turndale and I’m gonna rip him a new one. You want me to drop the guys in Tokyo a note and tell them to re-mark that corporate position?”
“I’d rather talk it through with them first. Say nine o’clock. You mind setting it up?”
“Where you gonna be?”
“I’m flying tomorrow, so I’m going to stay over at the Harvard Club.”
“And then where?”
“Helsinki and London, then back home Friday night.”
“You just got back from Toronto,” he says accusingly.
“So what are you, on a fuckin’ concert tour? How many customers we got in Helsinki?”
“How many that’ve got two nickels to rub together?”
“One. We should ignore them?”
Tigger mutters under his breath.
“Don’t start with the Yiddish,” I say, feeling a dull pain throb behind my temples. “Please.”
“You’re spendin’ half your time out of the country and the other half sleepin’ in the city. Why? What’s goin’ on at home?”
“Things are bad,” I say, looking out the window onto Battery Park. Glossy green leaves reflect morning sunshine in the treetops below, a light breeze creating the illusion of liquid motion. The line of sweating tourists waiting for the harbor ferries is half the size it was two weeks ago, a harbinger of the imminent change of season. Setting down the foam ball, I slip my watch off my wrist and begin toying with the metal band.
“Bad,” he asks, “or every molecule in your body exploding at the speed of light bad?”
“More the latter,” I say.
“You want my advice?”
Tigger and I have been friends a long time now, but I’ve always tried to keep my personal problems out of the office.
“I want you to mind your own fucking business.”
“Tell her you’re sorry.”
“You’ve been studying to be a rabbi for what, ten years now? And that’s your best shot? Tell her I’m sorry?”
“I’ve been married for thirty years. Take my advice. Say you’re sorry, let her vent, say you’re sorry again, let her vent some more, and keep goin’ until you end up in the sack. Don’t forget to nod a lot while she’s talkin’, and say stuff like ‘You must have felt awful.’ ”
Meet the Author
Lee Vance is a graduate of Harvard Business School and a retired general partner of Goldman Sachs Group. He lives in New York City with his wife, Cynthia, and their three children.
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