Tuesday 4 June 2024

BLOG TOUR: Zero Ri$k - Simon Hayes

Ten days. Seven Deadly Sins. Zero Ri$k.

What’s not to like when your bank account gains an extra zero or two at Christmas?

When customer complaints on Christmas Eve about tenfold inflated bank balances herald not early Christmas gifts, nor a botched computer system upgrade, but the most sophisticated cyber attack in history, National Bank Chief Operating Officer Rob Tanner finds himself in the eye of a ‘Black Swan’ storm no one predicted, but anyone could have anticipated.

Tanner enlists the help of brilliant American cyber security expert Ashley Markham, but the attacks only worsen: bank balances rise remorselessly and spread to all the nation’s banks. The only clues to the hacker’s intentions are cryptic daily emails, centred on Hieronymus Bosch’s medieval representation of the seven deadly sins—and packed with colourful artistic and cultural references—taunting Tanner and the newly incumbent Prime Minister, James Allen.

With financial markets—and the very world as he knows it—on the brink of collapse, Tanner races against the clock to decode not just the bizarre emails but their deeper meaning, and the implications for who he can really trust. All the while, his former boss “The Toad” is seeking revenge... and answers of his own.

This enthralling, multi-layered debut follows the story of a disillusioned banker facing unthinkable financial Armageddon, where money has no value, stock and bond prices are meaningless, and the economy is destroyed. Can Tanner unravel the mystery of the hacker’s obsession with Bosch, sin and retribution before modern society returns to the dark ages?

What did I think?

WOW!  What a debut!  Zero Ri$k is absolutely brilliant - I actually uttered those exact words after I had turned the final page and finally released the breath I didn't realise I had been holding.  It's a chunky book at 780 pages long but I flew through it as I couldn't put it down.

Rob Tanner deserves a medal for working for 'The Toad' for so long and when their bank is hit with a cyber attack on Christmas Eve, The Toad will blame anybody but himself.  As quickly as the attack started, it appeared to have finished so things can get back to normal right?  WRONG!

I felt like my nerves were balanced on a knife-edge as the action played out before me on the page.  Simon Hayes' writing is as vivid as the Hieronymus Bosch paintings that depict the seven deadly sins.  I loved how Bosch's famous artwork is woven into the plot and it's very thought-provoking to consider what Bosch would make of our current society where few people could claim to never have experienced greed, pride, gluttony, lust, sloth, envy or wrath.

If I thought the writing was exquisite, the plot is even more so.  Although I do have a financial background myself, you don't need any financial knowledge to fully appreciate the sublime plot.  Just the thought of how much trust we put into banks to keep our money safe and the odd occasion we hear of banks having issues that stops people accessing their money is enough to give me nightmares.  Simon Hayes takes that fear and increases it a hundredfold as people's bank balances change at will.

Incredibly imaginative, heart-poundingly thrilling and scarily realistic,  Zero Ri$k is easily one of the best books I have read this year and it's even more astonishing that it's a debut novel.  Although the book will always be better, I think it's destined for the big screen and I would be very surprised if it's not snapped up by a movie producer.  I really can't recommend this unmissable novel highly enough - an easy five stars.

I received a digital ARC to read and review for the blog tour and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

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About the author:

Simon Hayes is a seasoned professional with a diverse background spanning financial services, executive search, and consultancy. With over three decades of international experience, he has lived in the US, Tokyo and Hong Kong. Simon began his career with Bank of Boston, Morgan Grenfell and James Capel, before spending much of the 90s in Asia, serving as Head of Equity Research for Warburg in Japan and later as Managing Director for Salomon Bros and UBS in Hong Kong. Simon is a Trinity Hall, Cambridge, Law graduate and the creator of rubriqs®. Recognised as a top-ranked securities analyst by Extel and II, and later as the "Best Headhunting Executive" in Japan byAsiamoney, he has also been an executive coach, mentor, and financial consultant, spending much of 2023 in Zimbabwe on a major fraud case. Born in Ealing, he is a lifelong supporter of Brentford FC. A proud father to India and Ivo, Simon now lives near Tower Bridge.

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