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Book Review - 'Zero Alternative' by Luca Pesaro

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Zero Alternative

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Greed. Corruption. Scandal. They're all words synonymous with places like Wall Street and The City of London. In popular culture, investment bankers are readily equated with white collar criminals whether they're guilty of malfeasance or not. It's a profession not to be trusted. Those who are well versed in manipulating the global marketplace are seen as practitioners of the dark arts. They are among a tiny fraction of the population who actually understand the nuts and bolts that sustain the international economy. However, this knowledge is suspect because not even those on the inside can grasp the full scope of the matter. The entire system is too fragmented, too complicated, and scarily enough run by computers that process an exorbitant amount of trades on a millisecond basis. Humanity could never match its speed and efficiency. Everyone's essentially on the outside looking in.

Luca Pesaro is familiar with such a world. He was once a derivatives trader, himself until he jumped ship and decided to write about it instead. As a sort of penance? Who knows? But in ZERO ALTERNATIVE, he crafts a hero figure out of his protagonist, Scott "Yours" Walker, a man who is thrown out in his prime much to his chagrin. Lately, he's only getting a buzz off his losses rather than his impressive scores. So it's no wonder he realizes too late that a powerful adversary has been following his every move in cyberspace, watching his trades and how he seems to profit on the downturns of others.

It must be the fantasy of practically everyone in such an ego driven field to be right, when everyone else is wrong. To make millions, while the competition crashes and burns. And Pesaro delivers in his debut thriller. Walker triumphs on what begins as quite a dark day. His instincts are right on target, but he's not acting alone. His conjecture receives one heck of a technological boost. In the adrenaline charged frenzy of buying and selling, he executes his game plan to perfection. He knows the right people. He makes the right calls. He clicks his mouse at the right time. He slays the market, the market doesn't slay him.

But with such omniscience comes great responsibility. Walker has the chance to destroy the status quo, tear everything down and start from scratch. He's conflicted. He doesn't know if a total meltdown is what's really necessary. The old order might still be repairable from within. Ultimately, the choice might not be up to him. Technology doesn't belong to one person. Others seek it. Others have it. He might not be the one calling the shots when it counts. But oh, if he is what a rush that would be—for Walker, for Pesaro and for the reader.

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