Frey, Stephen W. 1960-
Frey, Stephen W. 1960-
PERSONAL: Born 1960; married; children: Christina, Ashley. Education: University of Virginia, M.B.A., 1987.
ADDRESSES: Agent—c/o Author Mail, Random House/Ballantine, 1745 Broadway, New York, NY 10019.
CAREER: Westdeutsche Landesbank, New York, NY, vice president of corporate finance; principal with a private equity firm in Virginia. Former corporate lending officer, Irving Trust Company; former staff member, J.P. Morgan & Company; former staff member, Societe Generale. Cofounder and coowner of a soft drink distribution company, 1992.
The Takeover, Dutton (New York, NY), 1995.
The Vulture Fund, Dutton (New York, NY), 1996.
The Inner Sanctum, Dutton (New York, NY), 1997.
The Legacy, Dutton (New York, NY), 1998.
The Insider, Ballantine Books (New York, NY), 1999.
Trust Fund, Ballantine Books (New York, NY), 2001.
The Day Trader, Ballantine Books (New York, NY), 2002.
Silent Partner, Ballantine Books (New York, NY), 2003.
Shadow Account, Ballantine Books (New York, NY), 2004.
The Chairman, Ballantine Books (New York, NY), 2005.
The Protege, Ballantine Books (New York, NY), 2006.
ADAPTATIONS: The film rights for both The Takeover and The Vulture Fund have been sold to Paramount. Audio books include The Legacy, Penguin, 1998; The Insider, Recorded Books, 2000; Silent Partner, Sound Library/BBC Audiobooks, 2003; The Chairman, Books on Tape, 2005; The Protege, Ballantine, 2005.
SIDELIGHTS: After reading the suspense novels of John Grisham, Tom Clancy, and Scott Turow, onetime Wall Street banker Stephen W. Frey decided he could follow the same course. The result of Frey's first foray into the world of fiction was The Takeover. In this Wall Street thriller, the Sevens (a secret society of powerful Harvard Business School alumni) set in motion an elaborate scheme to oust the ultra-liberal U.S. president currently in office because his policies do not support the wealthy. In accomplishing their objective, the Sevens put young mergers-and-acquisitions specialist Andrew Falcon in a position to manage the takeover of a major bank. Unbeknownst to Falcon, the Sevens rig the takeover so that the bank will collapse just weeks before the presidential election. By the time Falcon realizes what is going on, it may be too late to save either the bank or himself.
Describing The Takeover in a USA Today review, John H. Healy wrote that "John Grisham meets Robert Ludlum on Wall Street in this fast-paced novel." A Publishers Weekly contributor stated: "Frey's plotting requires leaps of faith, and his characters are cartoonish," yet added that the novel does have all the elements a fan of the thriller genre would enjoy. "Looking to vicariously live the life of a financier on Wall Street?," Healy asked. "This is the roller coaster that will take you there."
A reviewer in Publishers Weekly found Frey's fourth novel, The Legacy, to be "a strange, lumpy, often ludicrous but finally addictive story that mixes historic tragedy with the personal problems of a would-be Master of the Universe." The protagonist, twenty-nine-year-old Cole Egan, is a Wall Street securities trader who is skirting financial ruin because of shady trading practices and illegal gambling that have left him heavily in debt to the Mafia. Cole's situation seems hopeless when he suddenly inherits, from a father he never knew, a thirty-five-year-old film that shows the assassination of John F. Kennedy from the vantage of the infamous grassy knoll, where many have claimed a second shooter fired at the president. The monetary value of the film seems to promise a solution to Cole's financial woes. The film also arouses Cole's curiosity about his father, supposedly a former secret operative. At the same time, a new cast of heavies, all after the film, suddenly enters the action. "Frey, a slick thriller writer," commented Gilbert Taylor in Booklist, "who knows that a contemplative protagonist sells half as well as one on the run, will not allow Egan … to ponder his options; he is too frantic dodging bombs, bullets, and knives to think about anything except who's killing people to get the film." Steven Nemmers on the Mystery Reader Web site concluded: "Stylistically, it's nicely put together and pleasant to read." Catherine Swenson, writing in the Library Journal, praised the novel's "distinctive characterizations" and "effective level of suspense."
Frey followed The Legacy with The Insider, the tale of Jay West, a man eager to wheel and deal with the power brokers of Wall Street. When Oliver Mason, head of a major financial firm, offers West a job, the younger man jumps at the chance. However, after a corporate jet explodes and bodies start piling up, West soon begins to understand that both his new position and his new employer are something other than they at first seemed. David Rouse in Booklist observed: "Even though his plot employs a complicated financial scheme, Frey avoids losing his readers by using narration and dialogue that clearly explain the details."
Frey's sixth novel, Trust Fund, creates a Kennedye-sque political family and involves it in political and financial skullduggery in an attempt to seize the resources of the Internet and control the American military-industrial complex. Patriarch of the family, Jimmy Lee Hancock, donates two million dollars to the conspirators, a secret cadre of congressmen and intelligence agents, so they will support his son Paul for their party's nomination for president. Meanwhile, Paul's brother Bo is responsible for the success of the family's investment firm, Warfield Capital, despite the fact that a third brother, Ted, is ostensibly in charge of the firm and takes the kudos. Bo's reward is to be exiled to Montana, supposedly because of his drinking, but actually to keep him from learning about the firm's increasingly shady dealings. Bo must return to New York to confront both his family's corruption and to battle those who have involved Warfield Capital in their schemes. A reviewer in Publishers Weekly stated that "Frey cleverly incorporates the workings of Wall Street, global economics and the wired world into his melodramatic plot. The reader always learns something new about finance from Frey's suspenseful outings."
The Day Trader tells the story of August McKnight, who is a prime suspect in his wife's murder. McKnight had made a tidy sum doing day trades and has become something of a legend among his fellow day traders. "From Augustus's cubicle at [work] … the reader learns the real deal about day trading and the great likelihood that Augustus will eventually lose everything," noted a Kirkus Reviews contributor, who called the novel "a gripping thriller." Writing in Publishers Weekly, a reviewer noted: "Credit Frey … with coming up with a zinger of an ending." Larry Light wrote in Forbes that Frey "does for trading floors what John Grisham has done for the bench." Light also wrote: "For Frey, the pursuit of big money is not a wicked thing. This alone makes his work refreshing."
Frey tells the story of Angela Day, who goes from growing up in a trailer park to encountering the machinations of the rich, in his novel Silent Partner. Working for a bank, Day becomes involved with a rich rancher, Jake Lawrence, who wants her to take part in a merger he is planning. When looking into a software business for Lawrence, she uncovers illegalities, possibly perpetrated by the regional bank where she works. Her discoveries soon put her life in danger. A Publishers Weekly contributor wrote that the author "is best describing the internecine workings of financial institutions and those who manipulate them." Mary Frances Wilkens, writing in Booklist, commented: "The well-formulated surprise ending rounds out what's sure to be another hit."
Shadow Account again follows Frey's "formula of extremely complicated plots spun around illegal, high-level financial shenanigans," as a Publishers Weekly contributor noted. This time, Conner Ashby, an investment banker, becomes aware of the company Project Delphi and corporate fraud via the telephone. Soon after, his girlfriend is murdered. Ashby escapes and sets out to track down those responsible. His investigation takes him to the source of Project Delphi, which may involve the White House's chief-of-staff and secretary of the treasury. "The conspiracy involves multinational corporations, billions of dollars, and a prime selection of bad guys snatched from the corridors of power," wrote a Kirkus Reviews contributor. Mary Frances Wilkins, writing in Booklist, commented: "Frey does what he does skillfully."
In his tenth novel, The Chairman, Frey starts out on a new series featuring Christian Gillette, a successful financier in his mid-thirties. In this first installment, Gillette is nearly blown up in his car after giving a eulogy for his late boss at Everest Capital. Despite the warning, Gillette sets out to successfully establish his pet project, an equity fund called Everest Eight. A Publishers Weekly contributor commented that the novel is "distinguished by colorful, well-drawn characters and an arresting, labyrinthine plot." Once again writing in Forbes, Light noted that the character of "Gillette engages us with his enviable panache and awesome courage." He also noted that Frey "provides twists galore, great action and crisp dialogue. But what he excels at is enriching his stories with financial lore."
As promised, Gillette returns in The Protege. Gillette has become chairman of the company but soon finds himself caught up with the mob when his colleague David Wright murders a prostitute. A subplot involves illette's efforts to find out more about the death of his father, Senator Clayton Gillette, who died in a plane crash more than a decade earlier. Calling the novel a "sharp-edged tale," a Kirkus Reviews contributor also noted: "A series character shapes up and even shows a bit of humanity." Mary Frances Wilkens, writing in Booklist, commented that "this series continues to look good."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, July, 1996, Emily Melton, review of The Vulture Fund, p. 1801; May 1, 1997, Mary Frances Wilkens, review of The Inner Sanctum, p. 1461; May 15, 1998, Gilbert Taylor, review of The Legacy, p. 1564; August, 1999, David Rouse, review of The Insider, p. 1986; October 15, 2000, David Rouse, review of Trust Fund, p. 390; October 15, 2001, Mary Frances Wilkens, review of The Day Trader, p. 354; November 1, 2002, Jeanette Larson, review of The Day Trader, p. 515; November 15, 2002, Mary Frances Wilkens, review of Silent Partner, p. 548; January 1, 2004, Mary Frances Wilkens, review of Shadow Account, p. 788; March 15, 2005, Mary Frances Wilkens, review of The Chairman, p. 1269; December 15, 2005, Mary Frances Wilkens, review of The Protege, p. 27.
Forbes, April 15, 2002, Larry Light, review of The Day Trader, p. 288; June 20, 2005, Larry Light, review of The Chairman, p. 168.
Kirkus Reviews, January 2, 2001, review of Trust Fund, p. 1450; October 15, 2001, review of The Day Trader, p. 1445; November 1, 2002, review of Silent Partner, p. 1552; January 1, 2004, review of Shadow Account, p. 7; March 1, 2005, review of The Chairman, p. 247.
Kliatt, September, 2005, Francine Levitov, review of The Chairman, p. 47.
Library Journal, June 15, 1995, p. 93; May 1, 1997, Darryl Dean James, review of The Inner Sanctum, p. 139; October 15, 1998, Catherine Swenson, review of The Legacy, p. 113; December 1, 2004, Barbara Hoffert, review of The Chairman, p. 88.
Publishers Weekly, July 18, 1994, review of The Takeover, p. 27; January 23, 1995, p. 44; June 5, 1995, p. 49; June 2, 1997, review of The Inner Sanctum, p. 54; May 18, 1998, review of The Legacy, p. 67; November 13, 2000, review of Trust Fund, p. 83; October 22, 2001, review of The Day Trader, p. 43; November 11, 2002, review of Silent Partner, p. 41; December 15, 2003, review of Shadow Account, p. 50; March 14, 2005, review of The Chairman, p. 47.
USA Today, August 30, 1995, John H. Healy, review of The Takeover, p. 4B.
AllReaders.Com, http://www.allreaders.com/ (February 21, 2006), Harriet Klausner, reviews of Shadow Account, Silent Partner, The Cairman, The Day Trader, and Trust Fund.
BookReporter.com, http://www.bookreporter.com/ (February 21, 2006), "Stephen Frey," interviews with author.
Mystery Reader, http://www.themysteryreader.com/ (February 21, 2006), Steve Nemmers, review of The Legacy.