Three Secret Service agents.
And millions for the taking.
Brad Meltzer, the author of the runaway bestseller The First Counsel, is back with another edge-of-your-seat thriller-a tale of two brothers trying to hide in a world where your every step can be traced.
It started as the perfect crime. Then it took a turn for the worse.
Charlie and Oliver Caruso are brothers who work at Greene & Greene, a private bank so exclusive you need two million dollars just to be a client. But when the door of success slams in their faces, they're faced with an offer they can't refuse: three million dollars in an abandoned account. No one knows it exists, and even better, it doesn't belong to anyone.
It's a foolproof crime. More important, for Charlie and Oliver, it's a way out of debt and the key to a new life. All they have to do is take the money.
But when they do, they quickly discover they've got a lot more on their hands than the prize. Before they can blink, a friend is dead-and the bank, the Secret Service, and a female private investigator are suddenly closing in. What invisible strings were attached to that account? How are the brothers going to prove they're innocent? And why is the Secret Service trying to kill them? Trapped in a breakneck race to stay alive, Charlie and Oliver are about to discover a secret that will test their trust and forever change their lives. This is Brad Meltzer at his most electrifying-a breathtaking, suspenseful story about two brothers chasing a dream that may cost them everything they hold dear.
What would you steal if you couldn't get caught?
Author Biography: Brad Meltzer is the author of the New York Times bestsellers The Tenth Justice, Dead Even, and The First Counsel. A graduate of the University of Michigan and Columbia Law School, he currently lives in Maryland with his wife, Cori.
|Publisher:||Grand Central Publishing|
|Product dimensions:||4.10(w) x 6.70(h) x 1.30(d)|
About the Author
Brad Meltzer is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Book of Fate, as well as the bestsellers The Tenth Justice, Dead Even, The First Counsel, The Millionaires, The Zero Game, and The Book of Lies.
He is also one of the co-creators of the TV Show, "Jack & Bobby" – and is the Eisner Award-winning author of the critically acclaimed comic book, Justice League of America.
His first non-fiction book, Heroes for My Son, is a collection of heroes – from Jim Henson to Rosa Parks – that he'd been working on since the day his son was born. This December, he'll be launching "Brad Meltzer's Decoded" on the History Channel. And his newest thriller, The Inner Circle, will be released on January 11, 2011.
Raised in Brooklyn and Miami, Brad is a graduate of the University of Michigan and Columbia Law School. The Tenth Justice was his first published work and became an instant New York Times bestseller. Dead Even followed a year later and also hit the New York Times bestseller list, as have all six of his novels. The First Counsel came next, which is about a White House lawyer dating the President's daughter; then The Millionaires, which is about two brothers who steal money and go on the run. The Zero Game is about two Congressional staffers who are – literally – gambling on Congress. The Book of Fate is about a young Presidential aide, a crazed assassin, and the 200-year-old code created by Thomas Jefferson that times them together. For authenticity, The Book of Fate was researched with the help of two former Presidents, Clinton and Bush. His last book, The Book of Lies, is about the missing murder weapon that Cain used to kill Abel, as well as the unsolved murder of Superman creator Jerry Siegel's father. Brad is one of the only people to interview Jerry Siegel's family about the murder and, with his charitable site, OrdinaryPeopleChangeTheWorld.com, has been the driving force behind the movement to repair the house where Superman was created.
His books have spent over ten months on the bestseller lists, and have been translated into over 25 languages, from Hebrew to Bulgarian. In The Tenth Justice, the opening lines are: "Ben Addison was sweating. Like a pig." In the Hebrew translation, it became: "Ben Addison was sweating. Like a horse." We're not sure if it's a Kosher thing or what!
Brad has played himself as an extra in Woody Allen's "Celebrity," co-wrote the swearing-in oath for AmeriCorps, the national service program, and earned credit from Columbia Law School for writing his first book, which became The Tenth Justice. Before all of that, he got 24 rejection letters for his true first novel, which still sits on his shelf, published by Kinko's.
Brad currently lives in Florida with his wife, who's also an attorney.
Date of Birth:1970
Place of Birth:New York, New York
Education:B.A., University of Michigan; J.D., Columbia University
Read an Excerpt
By Brad Meltzer
Warner BooksCopyright © 2002 Forty-four Steps, Inc.
All right reserved.
Chapter OneI know where I'm going. And I know who I want to be. That's why I took this job in the first place ... and why, four years later, I still put up with the clients. And their demands. And their wads of money. Most of the time, they just want to keep a low profile, which is actually the bank's specialty. Other times, they want a little ... personal touch. My phone rings and I tee up the charm. "This is Oliver," I answer. "How can I help you?"
"Where the hell's your boss!?" a Southern chainsaw of a voice explodes in my ear. "E-Excuse me?" "Don't piss on this, Caruso! I want my money!"
It's not until he says the word "money," that I recognize the accent. Tanner Drew, the largest developer of luxury skyscrapers in New York City and chief patriarch of the Drew Family Office. In the world of high-net-worth individuals, a family office is as high as you get. Rockefeller. Rothschild. Gates and Soros. Once hired, the family office supervises all the advisors, lawyers, and bankers who manage the family's money. Paid professionals to maximize every last penny. You don't speak to the family anymore-you speak to the office. So if the head of the clan is calling me directly ... I'm about to get some teeth pulled.
"Has the transfer not posted yet, Mr. Drew?"
"You're damn right it hasn't posted yet, smartass! Now what the hell you gonna do to make that right? Your boss promised me it'd be here by two o'clock! Two o'clock!" he screams.
"I'm sorry, sir, but Mr. Lapidus is-"
"I don't give a raccoon's ass where he is-the guy at Forbes gave me a deadline of today; I gave your boss that deadline, and now I'm giving you that deadline! What the hell else we need to discuss!?"
My mouth goes dry. Every year, the Forbes 400 lists the wealthiest 400 individuals in the United States. Last year, Tanner Drew was number 403. He wasn't pleased. So this year, he's determined to bump himself up a notch. Or three. Too bad for me, the only thing standing in his way is a forty-million-dollar transfer to his personal account that we apparently still haven't released.
"Hold on one second, sir, I ..." "Don't you dare put me on h-"
I push the hold button and pray for rain. A quick extension later, I'm waiting to hear the voice of Judy Sklar, Lapidus's secretary. All I get is voicemail. With the boss at a partners retreat for the rest of the day, she's got no reason to stick around. I hang up and start again. This time, I go straight to DEFCON One. Henry Lapidus's cell phone. On the first ring, no one answers. Same on the second. By the third, all I can do is stare at the blinking red light on my phone. Tanner Drew is still waiting.
I click back to him and grab my own cell phone. "I'm just waiting for a callback from Mr. Lapidus," I explain. "Son, if you ever put me on hold again ..."
Whatever he's saying, I'm not listening. Instead, my fingers snake across my cell, rapidly dialing Lapidus's pager. The moment I hear the beep, I enter my extension and add the number "1822." The ultimate emergency: 911 doubled.
"... nother one of your sorry-ass excuses-all I want to hear is that the transfer's complete!"
"I understand, sir." "No, son. You don't." C'mon, I beg, staring at my cell. Ring! "What time does your last transfer go out?" he barks. "Actually, we officially close at three ..." The clock on my wall says a quarter past three.
"... but sometimes we can extend it until four." When he doesn't respond, I add, "Now what's the account number and bank it's supposed to go to?"
He quickly relays the details, which I scribble on a nearby Post-it. Eventually, he adds, "Oliver Caruso, right? That's your name?" His voice is soft and smooth. "Y-Yes, sir."
"Okay, Mr. Caruso. That's all I need to know." With that, he hangs up. I look at my silent cell phone. Still nothing.
Within three minutes, I've paged and dialed every other partner I have access to. No one answers. This is a hundred-and-twenty-five- million-dollar account. I pull off my coat and claw at my tie. With a quick scan of our network's Rolodex, I find the number for the University Club-home of the partners retreat. By the time I start dialing, I swear I can hear my own heartbeat.
"You've reached the University Club," a female voice answers. "Hi, I'm looking for Henry Lapi-"
"If you'd like to speak to the club operator or to a guest room, please press zero," the recorded voice continues.
I pound zero and another mechanized voice says, "All operators are busy-please continue to hold." Grabbing my cell, I dial frantically, looking for anyone with authority. Baraff ... Bernstein ... Mary in Accounting-Gone, Gone, and Gone.
I hate Fridays close to Christmas. Where the hell is everyone? In my ear, the mechanized female voice repeats, "All operators are busy-please continue to hold."
I'm tempted to hit the panic button and call Shep, who's in charge of the bank's security, but ... no ... too much ofa stickler ... without the right signatures, he'll never let me get away with it. So if I can't find someone with transfer authority, I need to at least find someone in the back office who can-
I got it. My brother.
With my receiver in one ear and my cell in the other, I shut my eyes and listen as his phone rings. Once ... twice ... "I'm Charlie," he answers. "You're still here!?" "Nope-I left an hour ago," he deadpans. "Figment of your imagination."
I ignore the joke. "Do you still know where Mary in Accounting keeps her username and password?" "I think so ... why?" "Don't go anywhere! I'll be right down."
My fingers dance like lightning across my phone's keypad, forwarding my line to my cell phone-just in case the University Club picks up.
Dashing out of my office, I make a sharp right and head straight for the private elevator at the end of the dark mahogany-paneled hallway. I don't care if it's just for clients. I enter Lapidus's six-digit code at the keypad above the call buttons, and the doors slide open.
Shep in Security wouldn't like that one either.
The instant I step inside, I spin around and pound the Door Close button. Last week, I read in some business book that Door Close buttons in elevators are almost always disconnected- they're just there to make hurried people feel like they're in control. Wiping a forehead full of sweat back through my dark brown hair, I push the button anyway. Then I push it again. Three floors to go.
"Well, well, well," Charlie announces, looking up from a stack of papers with his forever-boyish grin. Lowering his chin, he peers over his vintage horn-rimmed glasses. He's been wearing the glasses for years-way before they were fashionable. The same holds true for his white shirt and rumpled slacks. Both are hand-me-downs from my closet, but somehow, the way they hang on his lean frame, they look perfect. Downtown stylish; never preppy. "Look who's slumming!" he cheers. "Hey, where's your 'I'm no longer a member of the proletariat' button?"
I ignore the jab. It's something I've had to get used to over the past few months. Six months, to be exact-which is how long it's been since I got him the job at the bank. He needed the money, and mom and I needed help with the bills. If it were just gas, electric, and rent, we'd be fine. But our tab at the hospital-for Charlie, that's always been personal. It's the only reason he took the job in the first place. And while I know he just sees it as a way to pitch in while he writes his music, it can't be easy for him to see me up in a private office with a walnut desk and a leather chair, while he's down here with the cubicles and beige Formica.
"Whatsa matter?" he asks as I rub my eyes. "The fluorescent light making you sick? If you want, I'll go upstairs and get your lamp- or maybe I should bring down your mini-Persian rug-I know how the industrial carpet hurts your-"
"Can you please shut up for a second!" "What happened?" he asks, suddenly concerned. "Is it mom?"
That's always his first question when he sees me upset-especially after the debt collectors gave her a scare last month. "No, it's not mom ..."
"Then don't do that! You almost gave me a vomit attack!" "I'm sorry ... I just ... I'm running out oftime. One of our clients ... Lapidus was supposed to put through a transfer, and I just got my ass handed to me because it still hasn't arrived."
Kicking his clunky black shoes up on his desk, Charlie tips his chair back on its hind legs and grabs a yellow can of Play-Doh from the corner of his desk. Lifting it to his nose, he cracks open the top, steals a sniff of childhood, and lets out a laugh. It's a typical high-pitched, little-brother laugh.
"How can you think this is funny?" I demand. "That's what you're worried about? Some guy didn't get his walking-around money? Tell him to wait until Monday." "Why don't you tell him-his name's Tanner Drew." Charlie's chair drops to the floor. "Are you serious?" he asks. "How much?"
I don't answer. "C'mon, Ollie, I won't make a big deal." I still don't say a word.
"Listen, if you didn't want to tell me, why'd you come down?" There's no debating that one. My answer's a whisper. "Forty million dollars."
"Forty mil!?" he screams. "Are you on the pipe!?" "You said you wouldn't make a big deal!" "Ollie, this isn't like shorting some goober a roll of quarters. When you're talking eight figures ... even to Tanner that's not spare change-and the guy already owns half of downt-"
"Charlie!" I shout.
He stops right there-he already knows I'm wound too tight. "I could really use your help," I add, watching his reaction. For anyone else, it'd be a moment to treasure-an admission of weakness that could forever retip the scales between walnut desks and beige Formica. To be honest, I probably have it coming. My brother looks me straight in the eye. "Tell me what you need me to do," he says.
Sitting in Charlie's chair, I enter Lapidus's username and password. I may not be squatting at the top of the totem pole, but I'm still an associate. The youngest associate-and the only one assigned directly to Lapidus. In a place with only twelve partners, that alone gets me further than most. Like me, Lapidus didn't grow up with a money clip in his pocket. But the right job, with the right boss, led him to the right business school, which launched him up through the private elevators. Now he's ready to return the favor. As he taught me on my first day, the simple plans work best. I help him; he helps me. Like Charlie, we all have our ways of getting out of debt.
As I scooch forward in the chair, I wait for the computer to kick in. Behind me, Charlie's sidesaddle on the armrest, leaning on my back and the edge of my shoulder for balance. When I angle my head just right, I see our warped images in the curve of the computer screen. If I squint real quick, we look like kids. But just like that, Tanner Drew's corporate account lights up the screen-and everything else is gone.
Charlie's eyes go straight to the balance: $126,023,164.27. "A la peanut butter sandwiches! My balance is so low I don't order sodas with my meals anymore, and this guy thinks he's got a right to complain?"
It's hard to argue-even to a bank like us, that's a lot of change. Of course, saying Greene & Greene is just a bank is like saying Einstein's "good at math."
Greene & Greene is what's known as a "private bank." That's our main service: privacy-which is why we don't take just anyone's money. In fact, when it comes to clients, they don't choose us; we choose them. And like most banks, we require a minimum deposit. The difference is, our minimum is two million dollars. And that's just to open your account. If you have five million, we say, "That's good-a nice start." At fifteen million, "We'd like to talk." And at seventy-five million and above, we gas up the private jet and come see you right away, Mr. Drew, sir, yes, sir.
"I knew it," I say, pointing at the screen. "Lapidus didn't even cue it in the system. He must've completely forgotten the whole thing." Using another one of Lapidus's passwords, I quickly type in the first part of the request.
"Are you sure it's okay to use his password like that?" "Don't worry-it'll be fine." "Maybe we should call Security and Shep can-" "I don't want to call Shep!" I insist, knowing the outcome. Shaking his head, Charlie looks back at the screen. Under Current Activity, he spots three check disbursements-all of them to "Kelli Turnley."
"I bet that's his mistress," he says. "Why?" I ask. "Because she has a name like Kelli?" "You better believe it, Watson. Jenni, Candi, Brandi-it's like a family pass to the Playboy Mansion-show the 'i' and you get right in."
"First of all, you're wrong. Second of all, without exaggeration, that's the stupidest thing I've ever heard. And third ..." "What was dad's first girlfriend's name? Lemme think ... was it ... Randi?" With a quick shove, I push my chair back, knock Charlie off the sidesaddle, and storm out of his cubicle. "Don't you want to hear her turn-ons and turn-offs?" he calls out behind me.
Heading up the hallway, I'm lost in my cell phone, still listening to recorded greetings of the University Club. Enraged, I hang up and start again. This time, I actually get a voice. "University Club-how may I assist you?" "I'm trying to reach Henry Lapidus-he's in a meeting in one of your conference rooms."
"Please hold, sir, and I'll ..." "Don't transfer me! I need to find him now." "I'm just the operator, sir-the best I can do is transfer you down there."
There's a click and another noise. "You've reached the University Club's Conference Center. All operators are busy-please continue to hold."
Clutching the phone even tighter, I race up the hallway and stop at an unmarked metal door. The Cage, as it's known throughout the bank, is one of the few private offices on the floor and also home to our entire money transfer system. Cash, checks, wires-it all starts here.
Naturally, there's a punch-code lock above the doorknob. Lapidus's code gets me in. Managing Director goes everywhere. Ten steps behind me, Charlie enters the six-person office. The rectangular room runs along the back wall of the fourth floor, but inside, it's the same as the cubes: fluorescent lights, modular desks, gray carpet. The only differences are the industrial-sized adding machines that decorate everyone's desks. Accounting's version of Play-Doh.
"Why do you always have to blow up like that?" Charlie asks as he catches up. "Can we please not talk about it here?" "Just tell me why you-"
"Because I work here!" I shout, spinning around.
Excerpted from The Millionaires by Brad Meltzer Copyright © 2002 by Forty-four Steps, Inc.. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Researching The Millionaires: How Your Privacy Is Invaded Every Day
Ever play hide and seek? How good are you at hiding? Could you do it for a week? A month? What about for the rest of your life? Do you think you could stay hidden when the Secret Service, private investigators, and your employer are all looking for you?
Those were the questions I started with when I began my research for The Millionaires. To find the answer, I contacted a private investigator, gave him just my name, and said, "Find out everything you can about me."
Within five seconds, he had my social security number. Ten seconds after that, he found my home address. And since his computer programs automatically add and subtract one digit from my street address, he also found all my neighbors. And not just from where I live now -- he found neighbors from my first apartment in Washington, DC, to all the places I'd lived in college, to the building where I grew up in Brooklyn. From there, he found my parents' and my sister's social security numbers and addresses, and all of their neighbors. The web kept getting wider -- soon he had dozens of people to talk to about me.
Within ten minutes, he had my unlisted telephone number, my former employers, the balances on my credit cards, even the fact that, according to my driver's license, I need glasses. Bank accounts and phone records were even easier. And when the investigator went way back, he found that I once wore a skirt to high school. (The air-conditioning had broken down and I was protesting the rule that boys weren't allowed to wear shorts.) We all think we're anonymous. Not anymore.
Think it'd be different for you? Before you answer, think for a second about your garbage. That's right -- your trash. Dumpster Diving is what investigators call it, and the best ones know exactly how to read your life by what you throw away: There's some discarded organic radicchio lettuce in the trash? You're a person of particular tastes, and can clearly afford the more expensive greens. Under that is a wrapper for a pound of supermarket turkey. You buy the higher-priced, honey roasted name brand -- again, you're not strapped for cash. There're pizza boxes, Chinese takeout containers, lots of packaging. You can afford to order out. There's a wrapper for Tampax. You've got a girlfriend. But there's only one wrapper. She's not sleeping over. There's a People magazine in there too -- check out the subscription label -- bam -- now they have your girlfriend's address as well. Go bring her in -- that's someone else to speak to.
And it doesn't stop there. When you go to a restaurant, do you know who owns the electronic machine they swipe your credit card through? When you're at the supermarket, do you use a discount shopping card? Or most important, when you make a phone call, do you know who can see every number you dial?
Everyone says Big Brother is coming. But the truth is, he's been here for years. The Millionaires may be a work of fiction, but the research is all real. When Charlie and Oliver -- the two brothers who are the heroes of the book -- go on the run, you'll see every sneaky little trick that investigators and law enforcement use to find them. You'll step inside the elite world of private banking, where clients have to have a $2 million minimum just to open an account. You'll find out how to really hide money from the government. And you'll even see where the secret tunnels are below Disney World.
What would you steal if you couldn't get caught? And where would you hide? As the chase begins, Charlie and Oliver quickly realize it's not always easy being The Millionaires. Ready or not, here they come.
January 2, 2002
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I am a new fan of this author, his books and now his show "Decoded".....and I very highly recommend his books....you won't be disappointed! : )
This is the 4th Meltzer book I've read and my least favorite of the four. Some parts were very exciting but other parts really dragged and unlike the other Meltzer books, I didn't really care about the main characters. I guess I'm glad I read it but I would recommend other books first.
Lots of twists & turns
Brad Meltzer made the book as a fast pace book. Every chapter left you guessing.
I couldn't put the book down for a while but it wasn't enticing in the last third of the book as it was in the beginning. The ending wasn't great and in fact disappointing. Not worth buying it but worth taking it out from a local library.
This is the first book I've read by this author and I couldn't put it down. He really keeps you guessing.
Great book! Mr. Meltzer is an awesome read! Lots of unexpected twists!
Fast paced, funny and always keeps you on your toes. This book is full of surprises and suspense. Its a real page turner.
I will read more for sure. It kept me interested and entertained. So glad I have found another author to add to my favorites list .
Meltzer is my favorite author. A great comic book writer and a wonderful novel writer. This may be without a doubt my favorite book of all time. I didn't even pay attention to the fact that the book is almost six hundred pages long. I zipped through it. You love the characters. You don't want anything bad to happen to the characters. It is simply a great read. A real page-turner and knuckle-biter. My highest recommendation.
It's hard to find a book that's well written and a page-turner to boot! This one makes you love the characters right off the bat and keeps you reading way past bedtime. There's enough mental energy required to make it interesting throughout the story. This was my first by this author, but I've gone back for more!
This story is entertaining throughout if thats what the reader is looking for. True there are some minor problems that may cause the reader to lose focus, but by the end of the book I wasn't able to turn the pages fast enough.
This is one of my favorite authors. but this book was not good. By the 3rd chapter i gave up.. it was that dull.
If this had been Brad Meltzer's first book, I would never have been prone to read another.
Entertaining but nothing special.
The story line starts off at a normal speed and gets faster paced, more convoluted, and entangled as it goes.
I cannot believe this book actually got a few bad reviews. After reading them, I had to write my own. I read this book 5 years ago and enjoyed it so much I would read it again. I definitely plan to read his other books based on this one. It is a real page turner, fast paced action book.
I saw this book in the bargin section at my local Barnes and Noble so I decided to buy it since I have already read all of the books that the 4 authors that I enjoy have written. I thought that this book was excellent, a real page turner, and would highly recommend it.
I couldn't finish this book at all. I read about 100 pages and finally I gave up. Was looking for some suspense and excitement within the novel, but to no avail. Too boring that I decided to just abandon it somewhere in the house.
Not a bad story but way to long and drawn out. When I had 50 pages to go I lost interest because the writing was so labored and slow. Action is supposed to be fast paced, The Millionaires wasn't.
This is an easy, mindless read -- enjoyable, but simple enough to serve as brain dope; cheap thrill only.
A bit long, but packed a little punch. More behind the scenes info would have been interesting.
Fun but not so well constructed and easy to guess the next thing...
Lots of twists and surprises. Loved it.