A Fatal Debt by John Gapper


8 Critic Reviews

He has turned his knowledge of the murkiest side of Wall Street to good effect in his first novel, a thriller about masters of the universe and murder.
-Financial Times


This timely debut thriller by an award-winning Financial Times columnist is a gripping tale of lethal intrigue set in the high-stakes Wall Street world—where wealth and privilege are no match for jealousy and betrayal.
Ben Cowper, an attending psychiatrist at the prestigious New York–Episcopal Hospital, is stunned to learn the identity of the emergency patient he’s just been assigned to treat: Harry Shapiro, a Wall Street colossus and one of Episcopal’s most prominent donors. But a high-profile reversal of fortune has left the once powerful investment banker jobless, bitter, and possibly desperate—judging by the handgun his wife finds him clutching. In Ben’s expert opinion, Shapiro is a suicide waiting to happen. But when the headstrong financier balks at an extended stay in the hospital psych ward, Ben reluctantly releases him, bowing to political pressure from Episcopal’s chief administrator, who’s more concerned with the patient’s money than his mind.
Days later, the shocking news breaks: There’s been a shooting death in Harry Shapiro’s Hamptons mansion. But even more shocking is the identity of the victim. A tragedy sets in motion an explosive chain of events that turns Ben Cowper’s life upside-down.
As hard-nosed cops close in with harder questions, the hospital closes ranks to protect its own interests. But with colleagues freezing Ben out, innocent circumstances conspire to incriminate him. Hounded by a DA who’s out for blood, and haunted by the specter of a shattered career, Ben has no choice: He must delve into the hearts and minds of the people who know Harry best, uncover the secrets they’d rather die—or kill—to keep, and expose the truth behind a web of malice disguised as madness.

About John Gapper

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John Gapper is chief business columnist and an associate editor of the Financial Times, based in New York. He also has a blog on which he comments on business news. He holds a bachelor of arts degree from Exeter College, Oxford University, and won a Harkness Fellowship to study at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. He is author of All That Glitters, a book about the collapse of Barings Bank in 1995, and How to Be a Rogue Trader. A former New Yorker, he lives in London with his wife and two daughters.
Published June 26, 2012 by Ballantine Books. 290 pages
Genres: Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Literature & Fiction. Fiction
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Critic reviews for A Fatal Debt
All: 8 | Positive: 8 | Negative: 0

Financial Times

Reviewed by Michael Prodger on Jun 29 2012

He has turned his knowledge of the murkiest side of Wall Street to good effect in his first novel, a thriller about masters of the universe and murder.

Read Full Review of A Fatal Debt | See more reviews from Financial Times

The Washington Post

Reviewed by Katherine Powers on Jul 20 2012

As with the toxic assets that brought Harry down, so in this novel nothing is what it seems.

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New Statesman

Reviewed by LAURA KUENSSBERG on Oct 11 2012

Although it’s fiction, A Fatal Debt makes the reader feel like an eyewitness to a moment in history when the world as we knew it stopped turning.

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CNN Money

Reviewed by Katie Benner on Jul 27 2012

...he is a fan of detective fiction, thrillers, and Alfred Hitchcock, influences that show up throughout the book. His book is plot-driven with a couple of twists and turns.

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New York Post

Reviewed by BILLY HELLER on Jul 01 2012

Financial Times columnist and editor Gapper gives his effort a twist — instead of focusing solely on banker and broker types, his protagonist is a shrink.

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Criminal Element

Reviewed by NELIZA DREW on Jun 25 2012

It’s a fun, suspenseful read that pits an intrepid young doctor against evil bankers.

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The Mystery Gazette

Reviewed by Harriet Klausner on May 24 2012

This is an exciting thriller that has an incredible set up starting with insight into Wall Street fraud and the media condemnation of Ben.

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Reviewed by Ayo Onatade on May 06 2012

A Fatal Debt is by John Gapper and brilliantly sets a mysterious death amid the fallout of the global financial crisis and the workings of high finance in New York and London.

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Karen Russo

Karen Russo 5 Sep 2013

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Ronnie Ebbs 5 Sep 2013

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