My latest book club read took me by surprise, in a good way. I never would have imagined liking a Russian finance and murder thriller. Yet Red Notice by Bill Browder turned out to be a very interesting story. Even when the author delved too deeply into financial, legal and illegal nitty gritty, it was still a page turner.
Red Notice by Bill Browder
Synopsis (an excerpt from Goodreads)
A real-life political thriller about an American financier in the Wild East of Russia, the murder of his principled young tax attorney, and his dangerous mission to expose the Kremlin’s corruption.
Bill Browder’s journey started on the South Side of Chicago and moved through Stanford Business School to the dog-eat-dog world of hedge fund investing in the 1990s. It continued in Moscow, where Browder made his fortune heading the largest investment fund in Russia after the Soviet Union’s collapse. But when he exposed the corrupt oligarchs who were robbing the companies in which he was investing, Vladimir Putin turned on him and, in 2005, had him expelled from Russia.
In 2007, a group of law enforcement officers raided Browder’s offices in Moscow and stole $230 million of taxes that his fund’s companies had paid to the Russian government. Browder’s attorney Sergei Magnitsky investigated the incident and uncovered a sprawling criminal enterprise. A month after Sergei testified against the officials involved, he was arrested and thrown into pre-trial detention, where he was tortured for a year. On November 16, 2009, he was led to an isolation chamber, handcuffed to a bedrail, and beaten to death by eight guards in full riot gear…
The reason this book worked for me is because Browder’s manner of writing was straightforward. While some of the more business heavy content went over my head, I found myself very wrapped up in Browder’s voice and personal account of this crazy situation.
His early experiences as a young financier right through to his ongoing mission as a human rights activist were gripping. It was hard, at times, to believe that this was a true story being told by the protagonist himself. The corruption in Russia, as detailed by Browder, is unfathomable.
I’d be lying if I didn’t say there were times I thought Browder was a narcissistic workaholic. His family must have suffered such frustration at his hyper focus on anything but them. Not to mention the dangers Browder brought upon himself and his family coming up against an angered Putin.
Red Notice was however compelling, enlightening and scarily current as Browder and his continued efforts were featured in my local newspaper less than two months ago.
The book not only held my interest, but I passed it off to Tony and he read it in record time.
Despite my initial reservations, I would definitely say this was a book worth reading.
Side Note 1
Red Notice is not the only unexpected thing I’ve found myself into recently. Stranger Things is now on my watch list and I can’t stop! Science fiction-horror? Definitely not my usual thing. But hey, maybe my taste in entertainment is finally evolving!
Side Note 2
In addition to reading Red Notice, I began my first audio book. I never read Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie two book clubs ago, so decided I’d give it a try on audio. Not sure I’m the best person for audio books or that this book was a good one to start with, but I’m willing to see how it goes until the end.
Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens. Everyone is raving about this book. It is so popular, I am #260 on the library hold list!