On the Bookshelf...

The Crash

Robert Peston

London, 2007. It's summer in the the economy is booming, profits are up and the stock market sits near record highs. But journalist Gil Peck is a lone voice worrying it can't last. Deep in the plumbing of the financial system, he has noticed strange things happening which could threaten the whole economy. But nobody wants to hear not the politicians taking credit for an end to boom and bust, not the bankers pocketing vast bonuses, not even Gil's bosses at the BBC, who think it's irrelevant. When Gil gets a tip-off that a small northern bank has run out of money, everything changes. His report sparks the first run on a UK bank in 140 years. The next day, Marilyn Krol, a director of the Bank of England dies in an apparent suicide. For Gil, it's personal. Marilyn was his was his scoop connected to her suicide? Or is there something more sinister in her death? Gil is determined to find out. The more he investigates, the more he is drawn into the rotten heart of the financial system, where old school ties and secret Oxbridge societies lubricate vast and illegal conflicts of interest. The whole economy has been built on a house of cards, and Gil is threatening to bring it down. When simply reporting the facts can make or break fortunes, Gil has to ask is he crossing the line between journalist and participant? Are his own conflicts of interest making him reckless? And in a world ruled by greed where nothing and no-one is too big to fail, what price will he pay for uncovering the truth?

The Crash by Robert Peston is set in the alterative universe that Robert introduced in his previous book, The Whistleblower. An alternative history if you like of New Labour and the early noughties in the UK. Now ten years on and we're seeing how the fiscal crisis of 2007 started.

Gil Peck, is a likeable yet fractious character. He causes ripples wherever he goes. His dogged determination to uncover what is behind the death of his close personal friend leads him into situations that he risks his life in. He's focussed on finding that truth to the detriment at times of his friendships.

Robert has sprinkled the story with descriptions of lavish parties and expensive designer wear that the banking world id famous for. It's hard at time to not think of the Prime Ministers mentioned as being the ones who actually existed in the UK at this time. Indeed, if you were to tell me that this really happened, I'd believe him.

I don't usually read books by celebrities as I think there's better authors out there not getting the credit they deserve. Yet Robert Peston writes with an enjoyable and knowledgeable style. As a journalist he knows how to create a riveting story and as such I judge him on his words and not his name. This is a brilliant and exciting read that I really enjoyed.

I'm looking forward to Gil's adventures going forward. The coalition years would be interesting, although the Johson debacle would be unbelievable unless you'd lived through it. This series has mileage left in it and I can't wait to read what happens next.

Thanks to NetGallery and Bonnier Books for the eARC in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.

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Review by
AJ Steel
September 6, 2023

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