What we're reading: Czar Rising by Geoffrey Sambrook

Geoffrey Sambrook’s second novel, Czar Rising, charts the rise and fall of Victor Lansky, a property speculator and former copper dealer, who invests in a Russian aluminium smelter at the time that the Soviet Union was falling apart.

Lansky’s journey takes him from being a mere Porsche-driving millionaire to the yacht-owning denizen of society pages and rich lists.

But his ascent in social status and wealth is not matched by any growing sense of the precariousness of his position – particularly as he is tempted by a banker into considering a deal which he believes his Russian partners, a pair of brothers, should consider, but they know they cannot accept.

Lansky is a diverting character, an ordinary man in an extraordinary position, who quails inwardly and somewhat comically at the prospect of vodka routs with the Russians, or descending into the depths of a Soviet-era dam.

Sambrook, whose first book was title Tarnished Copper, spent his career trading on the London Metal Exchange, for MG, Credit Lyonnais Rouse and Engelhard.

His experience is palpable in this thriller’s depiction of social and business meetings in grim hotels in Siberia, London’s finest restaurants, LME warehouses and the ski slopes of Courchevel – and the ironic observations of the characters taking part in them.

"It was exaggeration to describe the new business with Lansky quite in those terms, but he might as well put a bit of a gloss on it," a metal trader observes of his dinner with a Russian hood, purporting to represent a group of investors.

The Russian's observation of the same occasion is recorded thus: "At the end of the evening he had a good idea of how to open an LME account, but no dirt on Lansky."

This strong grasp of the language and dynamics of business and negotiation, the tightly-wound plot and the fictional depiction of the aluminium wars of the 1990s combine here in Sambrook's book to highly readable effect.

The Kindle version of the book can be found on Amazon.



October 08, 2012

11:25 GMT