Morris, Ken 1953(?)-

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MORRIS, Ken 1953(?)-

PERSONAL:

Born c. 1953; married; children: four sons.

ADDRESSES:

Home—Del Mar, CA. Agent—The Ford Group, 1250 Prospect St., Ste. Ocean 5, La Jolla, CA 92037. E-mail—[email protected]l.net.

CAREER:

Author. Worked for more than two decades as a stockbroker, including positions with Morgan Stanley (head of international sales and trading), Drexel Burnham (trading executive), and Prudential-Bache; consultant.

WRITINGS:

The Man in the Middle, Bancroft Press (Baltimore, MD), 2003.

The Deadly Trade, Bancroft Press (Baltimore, MD), 2004.

SIDELIGHTS:

A Wall Street trading legend in the 1980s, Ken Morris decided to retire after he became disillusioned with the lack of ethics displayed by many of the people and companies he dealt with in high finance. Although he went on to consult for several years, he turned his attention to writing full time when he was asked to write his memoir. Morris wasn't interested in a memoir, but he did wonder if he could write a novel. In an interview with Gregory Bresiger for Traders, Morris noted, "And, being the type 'A' kind of personality that is typical of a trader, once I started I didn't want to leave it unfinished."

Morris completed the novel and another one, both of which were never published. However, his third novel did make it to bookstands in 2003. Man in the Middle tells the story of Peter Neil, a young man who, after his mother dies, ends up working for a hedge fund called Stenman Partners. Initially, Neil is caught up in the world of high finance when he sees how much money can actually be made and the power that goes along with it. Eventually, he becomes disillusioned when he sees the bad side of greed, including the havoc that currency trading can wreak on Third World nations. He also begins to suspect that the death of his mother and several people associated with the firm are not merely accidents. When Stenman realizes that Neil is on to their illegal activities and cooperating with an agent of the Securities and Exchange Commission's Enforcement Division, he is targeted as the next in line to meet an untimely demise.

A Kirkus Reviews contributor noted, "Wall Street-refugee Morris brings an appealingly wild-eye enthusiasm to his first novel, a nonetheless formulaic and credibility-straining financial thriller." Gregory Bresiger, writing in Traders, noted that the book had a predictable triumphant ending for the heroes but added that "Morris is a good craftsman." A Publishers Weekly contributor also found the book predictable but also commented that "the fast-moving action and high-stakes financial intrigue should keep thriller fans entertained." In a Booklist review, David Pitt thought that Morris's "first novel suggests that his literary talent may be as finely honed as his business skills." Pitt added, "This is a crisply written, well-developed, and suspenseful tale of greed and deception."

Morris's next thriller, The Deadly Trade, features financial analyst Tim Mack, who is on the run after his wife's death and a bout of alcoholism. Mack ends up in San Diego and soon finds himself involved in the investigation of a biotechnology firm, where a small explosion has killed several people. During the course of the investigation, Mack also becomes involved with Betsy O'Brien, part of the biotech company's banking firm, Atterberry Stanton Securities. With the help of detective Bob Moore, Mack begins to uncover a tangled web involving mass murder, high finance, terrorists, and a biotech firm willing to do anything to make a profit, including helping to create an anthrax-like virus. A Kirkus Reviews contributor commented that the book included "multiple twists as well as frequent perspective shifts" and noted that the author "gets some suspense mileage out of Tim's uncertainty about whom to trust, whom not to."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Booklist, April 1, 2003, David Pitt, review of Man in the Middle, p. 1382.

Institutional Investor, July, 2003, "Morris's Hedge Thriller," p. 12.

Kirkus Reviews, February 1, 2003, review of Man in the Middle, p. 171; January 1, 2004, review of The Deadly Trade, p. 10.

Publishers Weekly, March 17, 2003, review of Man in the Middle, p. 57.

Traders, August 1, 2003, Gregory Bresiger, review of Man in the Middle; September 1, 2003, Gregory Bresiger, "An Accidental Novelist: From Non-Fiction to Fiction and Back Again. Does Art Imitate Life?" (interview with and biography of author).*