Black Edge was an intense book, with a fantastic set of characters and a thrilling story arc. It bounces from scene to set-up to scene, hardly letting up for a moment. Whether you were much impacted by the 2008 crisis or not, it will have you at turns frustrated, floored and furious. There is plenty of fodder here especially for folks interested in the financial markets or legal issues. Or criminal rackets, for that matter. Or how technology has seeped into and changed every aspect of our lives. While many characters and threads only last for a few sections, the book as a whole is well connected by a few key characters and themes. It offers a poignant perspective on what went wrong; some of the scenes will certainly stick with me, whether they were from horror at how incredibly criminal some actions were, or shows of just how much money was involved, and so on. While the book is mainly focused on one very specific point in time, it offers many lessons on what does and doesn’t work on society as a whole — which things can be held up by the honor system, which need to be enforced with real consequences. Especially when it comes to the letter of the law and the spirit of the law — there were quite a few things here that were technically legal, as stomach-turning as they were. And some were blatantly illegal. But hey.
I’d recommend this book to anyone interested in financial markets, enjoys fast-paced books, or was affected by the 2008 crisis. I’ve already loaned my copy to three people in the four-ish months ago that I read it, and they have all been effusive about how much they enjoyed, which is definitely a first for me. The only other book that even holds a candle to that record is American Gods by Neil Gaiman. The scenes I tended to find most chilling were ones that carry forward an earlier thread, and in the light of one scene the other one becomes clearly illegal, or ties it more closely into the story as a whole. One of my favorites is one where one of the hedge fund’s employees is speaking with a drug development industry insider he’s been in contact for a while, and who he has been gleaning knowledge from over that period. On the basis of that knowledge he’s been giving Cohen (the head of the hedge fund and the main person the story circles around) hints about what to do with stocks, without directly exposing Cohen to the “black edge” that this would be. There is a later scene that builds on this and makes it even more compellingly blatantly cleaving to the letter of the law rather than the spirit.
In summary, this was a book definitely not for the faint of heart. There were many nail-biting scenes, there were many enthralling scenes, there were many scenes that simply couldn’t help but pull you in many directions all at once. Similarly there were many great characters, ones that I will remember for a long time to come.