ISBN: 0825305101 


Beaufort Books 

322 pages, HardCover 

I know little about the banking world and high finance, in fact my idea of high finance is trying to balance my check book. So it was with some trepidation that I started reading Chameleon by Richard Hains, the concept of a novel revolving around the banking world did not seem like a great read.

I quickly realized that my reservations were unfounded, Mr. Hains has done a fabulous job in this, his first book. The quality of the writing is outstanding. The characters and plot are carefully developed, and the writing style has none of the usual jerkiness found in a first time author, he writes with the authority and ease of a seasoned professional.

The main character is Australian born Jon Phillips, who through a combination of skill, cunning, and a certain amount of luck, has worked his way up to the top table of Government bond traders working on Wall Street. Jon however, is not a satisfied man, he realizes that gradually the banking industry is changing, and his style of financial horse trading is becoming obsolete, his days at the top are numbered.

Although financially comfortable, Jon wants that last big stock market hit to allow him to retire. He formulates a plan to manipulate a section of the stock market, not only will the bank make a huge profit, but he personally will then have the funds he needs to escape from the rat race.

His plan is daring, and in his mind virtually risk free. In order for it to work though he must have access to a very large sum of money for a short time. His savior comes in the form of a fellow bank employee and board member Earnest Johnston. It transpires that Earnest has a client who is willing to place $35 million to assist in the transaction. What Jon does not realize at the time is that the money is dirty, and Earnest is merely assisting the client in a money laundering scheme on a grand scale.

It is imperative that the plan is executed flawlessly and without raising any eyebrows as it strays outside of the SEC guidelines, and if discovered could lead to serious repercussions of a criminal nature both for Jon personally and also the bank.

Of course the plan goes awry. Rather than the price of bonds rising, the price falls on the news that the SEC chairman has been caught in flagrante with an underage girl.

By the end of the day Jon instead of making a huge profit has actually succeeded in losing over $120 million dollars of the banks money. Worse than that, he has also lost the dirty money.

Jon rapidly becomes a pariah, fired from his job, and publicly humiliated in the press, he finds himself in a very lonely position. Earnest Johnston distances himself and the bank from Jon by deleting evidence and making Jon the scapegoat.

Meanwhile the owners of the $35 million in dirty money very much want to talk to Jon!

An international chase ensues, Jon plays both the part of the hunted and the hunter, with a number of untimely deaths along the way.

If you are a fan of fast action and high adventure, Chameleon is a book that you will want to read. It kept me riveted to the last page.

While researching questions for my interview with Richard Hains I discovered some interesting things about him, he is an Australian by birth, just like Jon, and like his character he is a financial wizard, although he is based in London rather than New York. And apparently one of the most eligible bachelors in England.

He has also come up with a very unique method of generating interest in Chameleon, not only has he created an interesting web site, but also a Youtube segment, and even a competition, the first prize including a first class flight to England, and dinner with the author. Now that’s what I call self promotion!

Simon Barrett


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