When I was first approached by Paul McDonnold to read and review The Economics of Ego Surplus, I was curious. For one, I had never heard of an economics thriller before. Two, I thought it would be interesting to read a piece of fiction with economics as its central theme. While I have no particular interest in the subject of economics, I do respect it, especially as I hear a great deal about it from my father who is an expert on all things to do with economics. McDonnold allowed me a glimpse of his novel before I decided I would like to read it. That ten-page glimpse got me quite excited to read further for there was something so very Ayn Rand-ish about it. There was a sense of something huge to come, and with all the power that seemed to exist in that one room of the first scene, I simply couldn't wait to start.
Before I go any further into my thoughts about and reactions to this book let me brief you in on the story. There is a terrorist plot afoot. But this time it has nothing to do with bombings or gunnings. Instead, the U.S. stock market is being threatened. Kyle Linwood is called in to help discover how exactly the terrorists plan on having the market crash on such a large scale. Linwood goes from point to point or rather, person to person before he is able to understand how such a thing can happen. Obviously, whoever is planning this has to have solid financially backing or be financially sound. The trail leads him and the FBI agent, Marshall, to the opulent city of Dubai where they finally nab the terrorists.
Now, I am not sure if my expectations were too high, but I had a problem with this novel on two levels. In theory, the story sounds fascinating. But as the plot unfolds its 'thriller' quotient is almost non-existent. The reason why Linwood, a mere graduate student, is called in to help with the investigation was rather flimsy. At the end his part was to collect data on the possibility of the market crashing on a large scale – something that an expert economist, or the couple of them mentioned in this book, could have provided the FBI with had they asked. Then there was the whole case with an assassin and finally the terrorists themselves – everything was simply too easy…too convenient.
However, keeping in mind the fact that when McDonnold asked me if I could review his novel he said, “…The Economics of Ego Surplus…helps the reader understand how the global economy works while being entertained” I think perhaps he has succeeded in that respect. Through Linwood McDonnold shows us how economics is not some scholarly, unreachable subject, but something that every single person has dealings with in their everyday activities. He breaks economics down in to everyday living making it easy to understand certain concepts, especially in relation to the rise and fall of the stock market and the part both the government and the layman play in it. Again, I was not convinced at the way all these concepts were delivered in terms of moving the plot along, but the concepts stay with you.
To summarise, while I would not rate this novel as a good thriller, I would recommend it as a good way to get beginners interested in economics. Therefore, as a thriller I would give it a mere 2/5 but as an introduction to economics while being entertaining I would give it a 4/5.