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The Last Trade

by James Conway

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Drew Havens made a killing for the Rising Fund, which, thanks to his prognostications, was the only hedge operation to anticipate and capitalize on the mortgage crisis of 2008. Havens is now rich beyond his dreams, but his work at the Rising Fund has cost him his marriage. And now it may cost him his life.… (more)
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If you invest in stocks, watch out for the Hindenburg Omen.

The omen, named after the 1937 Hindenburg airship disaster, occurs when numerous stocks hit their 52-week highs at the same time a high number of stocks hit their 52-week lows. Historically, the stock market as a whole will react with a short-term crash.

The omen is one example of what readers will learn about financial market theories and behaviors from James Conway's debut financial thriller, “The Last Trade.” Conway is a pseudonym for the author, identified only as a hedge fund insider and an advertising executive.

Conway anchors his story in actual financial history, presenting a Wall Street hedge fund company that reaped billions of dollars in profits by anticipating the 2008 collapse in value of mortgage-backed securities.

The story then moves to October 2011, where it becomes totally fictional. The firm's star quantitative analyst, Drew Havens, who garnered riches in 2008 by being the analyst who saw the housing market's weakness, questions the direction of the hedge fund's latest investments. Havens then suddenly has to go underground after his assistant is murdered, with the innocent Havens as the suspect.

Meanwhile, in Hong Kong, a federal agent named Cara Sobieski with the U.S. Financial Terrorism Task Force, is looking into the murder of a broker who had executed the order of numerous trades shorting stocks in Haven's The Rising Fund. Instead of one big trade, the order is for many trades, divided in sums less than $10,000 to avoid U.S. regulatory scrutiny.

The Hong Kong murder is just the first. Another trader dies each day, building tension in the novel, in Dubai, Dublin, Rio de Janeiro and elsewhere, each after handling similar orders. Only a South African trader escapes her attacker.

The two protagonists are gradually drawn to one another as they realize the short sales, which are drawing copycat orders around the world, are leading to a possible cataclysmic event that could make the investment positions a self-fulfilling prophecy.

The novel is fast-paced, with lots of false appearances that readers will detect before the narrative reveals the truth. One fault of the novel is that loose ends are not tied up after the climax. The novel's strength, however, is its insight into hedge fund trading and strategies that indeed shape market trends and affect all investors.
 
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Drew Havens made a killing for the Rising Fund, which, thanks to his prognostications, was the only hedge operation to anticipate and capitalize on the mortgage crisis of 2008. Havens is now rich beyond his dreams, but his work at the Rising Fund has cost him his marriage. And now it may cost him his life.

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