Money Tree by Gordon Ferris

money treeHi-Yo, Silver! Away!

😀 😀 😀 😀 🙂

When journalist Ted Saddler writes an article suggesting that the People’s Bank in India is ripping off the poorest people in the country, he is approached by Erin, an executive with a big American bank, who suggests he’s been fed false information and should do a bit of digging. A former Pulitzer winner, Ted is now middle-aged, world-weary and happy to be a desk journalist, but something about Erin’s story intrigues him. When his boss decides he should go to India to follow the story, he soon finds his views changing, as he meets the head of the bank and some of the people it has helped. Meantime, at his request, Erin is working with a hacker friend of Ted to investigate the head of her own bank, who she believes is behind the attacks on the People’s Bank. Cut in with this main strand is the story of Anila, a young woman from a village where the people live hand to mouth, who decides to ask for a loan from the Bank to set up her own little business.

The book follows a fairly traditional thriller format of goodies against baddies leading to a spectacular climax, but the quality of Ferris’ writing lifts it well above average. There’s a strong political message in the book, about how the poor of the third world are pawns in the power games of their own politicians and the rich and influential institutions of the West. Western banks and the World Bank don’t come out of the story well – actually that’s an understatement. They’re shown as corrupt from the top down and run on the whole by maniacal, amoral power-junkies, while the People’s Bank is shown to be an altruistic venture run solely for the purpose of supporting micro-businesses to help the poor rise out of their destitution. To be honest, I thought this aspect was all a bit too clear-cut – in reality, the situation on both sides is considerably more complex than I felt Ferris showed. However, it’s difficult to fully explore a political argument within the context of a thriller so some degree of over-simplification is probably necessary.

If you're wondering why The Lone Ranger references, you'll need to read the book. Hi-Yo, Silver! Away!
If you’re wondering why The Lone Ranger references, you’ll need to read the book. Hi-Yo, Silver! Away!

The characterisation is excellent, despite being based on the cliché of the has-been journalist inspired by an attractive woman to take up the good fight. Both Ted and Erin are likeable and their growing appreciation for each other as the story progresses is well done. The story of Anila and the villagers is interesting and Ferris gives a real sense of life in a place left behind and almost destroyed by the march of so-called progress. We see Anila’s life both from her own perspective and also through the eyes of Ted and Erin, which gives a rounded picture of how different and almost incomprehensible the lives of each are to the other.

Gordon Ferris
Gordon Ferris

Since the heart of the book is in the highly technological banking industry, the action is as likely to involve IT shenanigans as guns (though guns feature too – fear not, my bloodthirsty friends!) and this gives the book a feeling of freshness and originality. Ted’s friend Oscar and his gang of hackers provide some light relief as they don their online personas and ride off to battle in the warzones of the dark net. The plot is not about the who – we know from the beginning who the baddies are. It’s about whether Ted and Erin will be able to bring the baddies down in time to save the People’s Bank – and themselves.

Overall, I feel the book starts a bit slowly but gradually builds up the pace till by the end it races along. The traditional thriller ending is enlivened by the technological element, which Ferris explains well enough for even the least nerdy person to follow. I understand from the bumph on the Amazon page that this is to be the first in a new ‘Only Human’ series from Gordon Ferris, which will be ‘fast paced stories tackling some of today’s global challenges’. I’ll certainly be signing up for the next adventure.

Amazon UK Link
Amazon US Link

52 thoughts on “Money Tree by Gordon Ferris

  1. You don’t know how happy this review made me. It’s a much needed respite from practicing!

    Now this sounds like a good one. Hackers…and guns? It can’t get much better I’m thinking. (Did you notice how close Anila is to Amelia?)

    I’m thinking it’s not too entirely fair. Don’t you suppose we can have more of a hint with regards to the Lone Ranger? I think so!

    Mr. Ferris looks like me.

    • Haha! I’m glad! But get back to practicing now – it makes perfect, you know, you know… *severe face*

      I reckon you’d like Gordon Ferris – I’ve typed my little fingers to the bone trying to talk you into some of his books but you’re such a hard-hearted warrior! *reluctantly admiring face* (*gasps* You’re obsessed by that… that… creature!! Anila is NOT a hideous insect-eyed flirty flirt!! I think I shall prepare two blancmanges today – one for each of you! *flounces off*)

      Well… perhaps you don’t know this, but when the Wild West became all tame and dull, the Lone Ranger moved to India and Tonto went into banking in New York. So when the banks turned out to be the bad guys, it meant that the Lone Ranger had to hunt Tonto down and challenge him to a duel…

      *laughs lots* You cannot tempt me! I will be strong…

      • I don’t want to practice! I’ve had it. *throws the guitar out the window*

        Really? I don’t remember his name…what books? *very proud face* I am a hard-heartless warrior, you’re right! (Could I perhaps maybe eat mine instead of having it thrown at me, please? I’m surprised you didn’t think the names were close!)

        *laughing lots* That’s the FEF version, isn’t it? Who’s Tonto? I know I should know…

        Poor chap. You’re being mean to him.

        • *gasps, jumps into her Usain Bolt outfit, sprint across the Atlantic and catches it just in time* Phew! Now, get back to work!

          *growls* One day… (No, but you can eat it afterwards, if you like…and Amelia’s! Well, they both begin with A, I suppose, but then so do abominable, abysmal, annoying, aggravating and awful…)

          *chuckles* Might be! Tonto’s the Lone Ranger’s Red Indian sidekick (back in the days when people said things like Red Indian…)

          Me?!? Why, you…!! You are sooo wicked!!

          • *laughing* Rats. Rachmaninoff (one of the pieces I’m playing) is a savage. Thanks, FEF. Didn’t know you could get over here that fastly fast!

            I’m getting the feeling that I should remember… (Well, I’d eat mine…but hers?! Yucketh!!!! Maladroit. You have a point. Maybe I’m pronouncing it wrong.)

            Might be! Dadblameit. Red Indian sounds way cooler than just Indian! Just like Lone Ranger sounds cooler than Ranger!

            No, you!

            • Ooh, I rather like Rachmaninoff! I was spurred on by the horrendous thought of no more music vids…

              He’s the guy who wrote the books set in post-war Glasgow. (True! Hers would be full of false eyelashes and stuff! *makes a disgusted face* No, I admit they sound similar, but Anila was lovely…whereas Amelia *spits* – not so much!)

              You’d have loved the Lone Ranger!! You must have been offworld when that series was playing. Hi-yo, Silver! Away!! *gallops off on imaginary steed*

              *Kenny-snort*

            • Oh! *smiles bigly* I like him, too. I’ve never transcribed him for guitar before, though.

              See, that does seem like something I might read. But I don’t remember you trying to get me to read them… *gulps and looks guilty* Yucketh! I’d never eat that…ew! *spits in the sink*

              I was never offworld! Whatever that means! Dadblameit!

              *laughing* I’m glad to see you working on your circular breathing.

            • *nods gravely* No, nor have I.

              That’s because you’ve developed a magical shield to protect you from my reviews, but I am working on a plan to break through it…

              *laughs* Well, where were you then?! The series ran for, like, decades!!! And we know you’re nearly 85…

              Yes, we kazoo players take our art seriously, you know…

            • All it takes is lots of patience and a desk to bang your head on.

              Well, every book you review sounds good…even the ripped ones! Yes, warriors are quite adept at forming shields…

              I was probably in Egypt…or on an island that’s uninhabited.

              *cranky face* Bet Amelia likes Kenny!

            • Ah, that’s where I’ve been going wrong! *orders desk*

              Smooth! But not quite smooth enough to protect you from my new mind-control weapon…

              I’d like an uninhabited island. *wistful face*

              I bet she does!!! But I bet she snorts even when she’s breathing normally…

            • Don’t bang too hardly hard!

              How’s it work? Probably rotteningly–which is a word, yes.

              Yes! Me too. What would you do all by yourself? I think I’d climb, swim, and otherwise relax.

              Well, not all ladies can be as graceful as FEF!

            • It’s good of you to worry about the desk… *sobs*

              Hmm… you’re just about finished all 600 pages of Dune, aren’t you? I’d say it’s working wellishly… *cackles*

              I would walk about under the trees and since no-one would be looking, I might dance a bit, and sing.

              Awww, that’s so sweet! And so true! *walks off gracefully and falls over the cat*

            • I wasn’t worrying about the desk at all!!!

              *Laughing* Yeah, but…Dune is a warrior book. You’d have to try with JA. *gags*

              That sounds fun. Also, would have to do races and explore the caves.

              *Laughing lots* Tuppence!

            • Awww! You’re so sweet! *beams*

              I’ve only turned the dial up to 2 at the moment…wait till it gets to 11! *makes a list of romance novels*

              And at night I’d watch the stars and dream of other worlds.

              She’ll be fine once she unsquishes!

            • I think that’s what you wanted to hear! You knew I wasn’t talking about the dadblame desk!

              See? Look at the list. I knew you were a romance reader! (You killed yourself with that one. *laughs*)

              Of mars?

              Of course, I’m not worried about her.

            • *chuckles naughtily* But I like it when you’re sweet to me…

              Am not!!! *adds 24 P&P tribute novels*

              I shall wave at it and imagine Woola waving back…

  2. Oooh this does sound quite interesting – and it’s about big, mean nasty banks! With guns AND IT shenanigans. Actually, any shenanigans are great and with be being a Monday afternoon I’ll take all the shenanigans I can get.

    Top review, as ever, FF!

  3. Considering how much I liked his previous offerings, and that the only shares I own are in the Grameen Bank (on which I presume the “People’s Bank” is based), this sounds like one for me.

    • Indeed it is based on the Grameen Bank, though how closely I don’t know. I suspect you’ll enjoy this one a lot – different from the Brodie books, but just as well written.

  4. Well I have to confess I’ve still to try Gordon Ferris but I’m not sure that this would be the one I’d choose to start with and I’ll stick to The Hanging Shed which is loitering on the TBR as the subject matter and time period is much more my cup of tea.

    • Yes, I think the Brodie books would be more to your taste – mine too, to be honest, though I enjoy the occasional traditional thriller, and this is a good one..

  5. Well, I think I can safely pass this one up. Perhaps I’ve become more jaded. Or maybe it’s the head cold, but I’m finding it difficult to be enthusiastic about anything right now. Sorry. I’ll go back to bed now…

    • Oh, poor you! I’ve just recovered from a bug last week, so I sympathise. Lots of chocolate washed down by hot chocolate… or chocolate ice-cream if your throat’s sore…

      (“This comment came to you sponsored by the Associated Chocolate Growers of the World…”)

  6. A well written review. As always, I might add. I may keep an eye on it, but right now I’m overwhelmed by thrillers. In any case, High ho and away!

            • I have done it…it was one of my first jobs. Then I went into the classroom for quite a few years over which we shall gloss. I have been a beta reader for awhile, and was hoping to find something in writing or editing that might be somewhat lucrative. It came from a corner where I was not looking. But I am content, and glad to be on board. My dad used to say that I had my nose in a book most of the time. Publishing has changed a good deal since the dark ages when I started, but the principles are the same.

  7. Oh, FictionFan, this does sound like a good thriller! And I respect an author who can send a social message without it feeling like preaching. It sounds like an interesting look at that culture too. Hmmm…sometimes traditional ‘baddies v goodies can work well…

    • It was a big departure from his previous stuff, so I was glad it worked so well. And the India that he portrayed felt quite authentic. Yes, sometimes it’s good when you know whose side you should be on…

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