Timothy Cone, an unconventional private investigator working for a firm that specializes in financial crimes, investigates three cases for which his firm has been hired, and his services are specifically requested. Cone's firm works closely with the SEC in investigating financial crimes, mostly involving strange, unexplained rises in stock prices and why they are rising. In the first case, Cone is tasked with finding out if there is a leak in a brokerage firm, when several of the mergers they are involved have sudden rises in their stock prices, which could derail the mergers.
It starts out with a family-owned garbage collection firm in New York that has to pay the mob to stay in business. As Cone begins investigating the stocks rising, and he tries to make a connection between the different firms that have rising prices, in whose mergers his client is involved, we are let into the sordid garbage business. When the senior Mr. Stein dies, and the garbage collecting is left to his daughter, the financial whiz, the mob decides to take over the business because they don't think Sally is tough enough to run it. But she, in the meantime, has discovered that she can get stock tips from the garbage of a financial reporting publisher whose garbage they collect. She offers the mob stock tips, and Vic the had guy turms her down, Corsini, his second, visits her and cuts a deal that she can keep the business as long as the tips pan out. She tells him she gets them from her boyfriend, though she doesn't. Vic is executed and Corsini is now in charge. They start making lots of money and he involves associates from around the country. Cone, in the meantime, using reports from the SEC and a contact in the NYPD, starts to notice a pattern, particularly when it turns out that the people making the most investments all have mob ties and one is Sally's brother's boyfriend. He then starts following the garbage trucks after he figures out that the mob is involved with Steiner's business, and he finds out how Sally gets her stock tips and does her investing. As the facts unfold, Sally's business is threatened by the mob and her client the publisher, and it looks like she may go to jail until Corsini's nephew, who works for Sally, comes up with a unique way to keep her business and stay out of jail.
In the second case, a business run by Mr. Dempster, has a string of industrial accidents at industrial plants around the country. Mystified, the owner of the plants insists that no one is trying to take over the company. But then he gets executed on Wall Street and the NYPD warns Cone to stay away from the homicide and just stick to the industrial crimes. Cone meets with Dempster's brother David, and finds there is a little sibling rivalry going on. Dempster runs a PR firm, but doesn't do PR for his brother. Cone starts to get suspicious and follows David. He sees a meet with three wealthy men, gets the plates of their cars and finds they are all Wall Street pension heavyweights. He gets the Federal DA involved and then follows Dempster to a crummy bar in Hell's Kitchen. He tells his contact in the NYPD and finds the bar is owned by a violent street gang that is into everything from prostitution to stolen goods. When the owner of the bar offers Cone a motorcycle, which is what the guys who executed Dempster were riding that day, the pieces start to fall together. The feds bring in the Wall Street guys for questioning about the short sales, and they find that the industrial accidents happening in various firms all over the country are all connected and between the feds,the NYPD, and Cone, the murder is solved, the industrial accidents are solved and they tie it all into David Dempster.
The third case involves a Chinese food manufacturer, very conservative, run by the 80-year-old founder, who has a young, beautiful wife and a son he doesn't quite trust to turn his business over to. His stock prices have also been very stable and the dividends paid always about the same, and in keeping with earnings. Suddenly the stock prices have short bursts, and the owner is worried that something is going on, though his son says it's just a blip, but his father disagrees. He hires Cone's firm to investigate. In the course of the investigation, Cone finds that the son wants to expand the company but his father won't let him and he also discovers the son has ties to a Chinese gang, the leader of which is executed after talking to the son in the restaurant the leader owns. He is also a client of the food business. Cone involves the FBI to get background information on the gang and is told there are two of them, vying for power. Cone knows the son is somehow involved and so he follows the leads, investigates the Chinese gangs more and then starts investigating the son. He discovers there may be a relationship with the son and his step-mother and a link to the Chinese gangs that are trying to legitimize their various operations. After checking into the people buying the stocks, and the amount of stock each owns, he realizes that together, the son and step-mother could override the father if they both voted the same way. He also discovers the gangs could do the same, if they had the son's shares. After the son is kidnapped, with the help of the SEC, the FBI and the NYPD, they rescue the son and Cone gets to the bottom of the case. Another one solved.
Best part of story, including ending:
This story is riddled with slang and stereotypes reminiscent of the 1940s gangster movies, where it isn't necessary. It actually detracts from the story. Though the cases were interesting, the way it was written made me want to finishe it as soon as possible.
Best scene in story:
My favorite scene is when the mob guys tell Sally she is losing her business and she stands up to them and tells them it will never happen. She says it in such a way that you can hear the NY accent come through.
Opinion about the main character:
I liked that he was good at finding the information he would need to see the emerging patterns in the finances of these companies, and that he chose the right time in which to involve the various agencies he worked with.