2017 · Blog Tour

Trading Down by Stephen Norman #Extract #BlogTour @stephennorman49 @EndeavourPress

Today I’m delighted to be kicking off the blog tour for Trading Down by Stephen Norman with an extract.

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A new kind of terrorist…

Chris Peters loves his work in a multi-national bank: the excitement of the trading floor, the impossible deadlines and the constant challenge of the superfast computers in his care. And he loves his beautiful wife, Olivia. But over time, the dream turns sour. His systems crash, the traders turn on him, and Olivia becomes angry and disillusioned. So much bad luck.

Or is it? A natural detective, Chris finds evidence of something sinister in the mysterious meltdown of a US datacentre. A new kind of terrorist. But can he get anyone to believe him? His obsessive search leads him to a jihadist website, filled with violent images; a man beaten to a pulp in a Dubai carpark; and a woman in a gold sari dancing in the flames of her own destruction. Slowly, a tragic story from decades ago in Yemen emerges.

Too late, Chris understands the nature of the treachery, so close to him. His adversary knows every move and is ready to strike. Even his boss agrees: if this program is run, it will destroy this bank as surely as a neutron bomb. And Chris Peters has 48 hours to figure it out…

“Trading Down does for bankers what the Charge of the Light Brigade did for horses. It’s merciless.”
Lord Michael Dobbs, Author of House of Cards

“My wife couldn’t get a word out of me till I had finished the book. Now I can’t get a word out of her, while she reads it. Brilliant ” – Johnny Cameron, ex-Chairman, Global Markets

“Trading Down is fast paced, enthralling and grips from the first page to the last. It tells it how it is in the investment banking environment…. constant crisis and fire fighting on multiple fronts” – Clare Cameron

“A great, surprising rollercoaster crime-thriller, set inside an investment bank under cyber-attack” – Tanya Andreasyan, Editor, Banking Technology.

Available to pre-order now from the following – Amazon UK

EXTRACT

Scene from the Schuster video
21 Nov 2007
[Dubai Police Archives JD-100343/07B]
After breakfast, Robert Schuster and his wife take a taxi to the Dubai Mall, where they part. She has no interest in construction, and he has no interest in shopping. For the next two hours, he walks the hot, dusty lots of downtown Dubai, circling the vast building site where the Burj Khalifa is being built.
Bob Schuster loves tall buildings and the Burj is already the tallest building in the world. You can buy postcards at the hotel, but Bob wants a more personal record to take back home.
It is tough to find a good spot. ‘Too much other crap,’ he mutters, as each site is rejected. Finally, he comes across a walled fountain in front of a large bank. It is the perfect spot. It takes him less than a minute to set up the camera on the marble wall and start filming. You have to be quick with these things. Already he can hear officious shouting from the guards outside the big glass doors.
His first shot shows the forecourt beyond the fountain. A few figures walk across it. One of them is a woman, approaching the bank. She is immaculately dressed in a gold sari, and she is carrying a shopping bag in each hand. They seem heavy. She walks slowly. She could be a wealthy client, except that rich people do not walk in downtown Dubai.
Bob Schuster is not interested in her; he zooms across the road, across the acres of piled earth and discarded steel, to the ground floors of the Burj Khalifa. He provides his own commentary. It is full of technical details about the concrete and the cladding. After admiring the lower floors, the camera swims slowly upwards. One hundred and fifty floors flow by in dizzy procession. On the 150th floor, the construction workers are still laying steel. The building will not be opened for another couple of years, in January 2010.
The camera picks up other voices nearby, shouting. They disturb Bob Schuster’s commentary. Irritated, the camera abandons the heights and swings down and left, onto the entrance of the bank, just 50 metres away.
The woman in the sari is now standing in front of the bank. She has put her shopping bags down. A security guard confronts her. He is shouting in Arabic, pointing, telling her to go away. She turns and looks directly at the camera for a moment. We understand the guard’s confusion. She is wearing fancy swimming goggles with holograms of sharks on them. The white teeth of the sharks flash in the sunlight. The camera is transfixed.
Bob Schuster is silent.
She rubs her hands inside one of her bags, as if she was washing them, and presses them on the white limestone wall, just beside the main door.
The camera zooms in, shows two small, dark handprints. Now the guard is furious and for the first time he lays hands on her, scolding, threatening, pushing her away.
But she’s ready for him. She takes a red, plastic can from the bag on the left. It has a spout. Swiftly, she sprays it at him. A thin stream of liquid splashes over his face. He runs inside, clutching his eyes. While he’s gone, she kneels down and empties the rest of the can over herself. It takes a while.
One hears Schuster’s voice, “Oh my God, oh my God.”

Another security guard comes out. He waves his pistol at her. She holds out a small, rectangular object in one hand. He seems frightened of it and backs away. He wants to shoot her but can’t bring himself to do it.
Still kneeling, she takes a second can from the other bag and pours it on her body. Now her sari is wet, almost see-through. It clings to her full breasts and buttocks. She bends forward, rests her forehead on the ground.
Both security guards are out now, guns drawn. She holds out the plastic lighter again and they back off.
Not far enough. The camera catches the first, tiny spark from the lighter and instantly there is an envelope of flame, twenty feet across. The guard who was splashed catches fire. He runs towards the fountain – and the camera – but he cannot see where he’s going. Halfway he falls over and lies writhing. He has made the mistake of breathing in. Pale blue and orange flames caress his face.
Behind him, the figure of the woman can be seen. She could be dancing in a nightclub. Her hands are together, above her head. The sari is gone, the hair ablaze, strangely floating upwards in the flames. One leg on the ground, the other lifted, every part of her is on fire.
We hear Bob Schuster’s voice again, shaking, crying. The camera keeps running. Later we see him in a small crowd around the guard with the burned face, trying to help. There is nothing left of the woman in the sari except charred limbs, still smouldering.
Before the movie ends, we hear Bob’s voice for the last time.
“No-one knows who she is. They don’t know why, they don’t know shit.”
Trading Down by Stephen Norman is published by Endeavour Press on 9th November.

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