Jonathan Dee

Random House
Trade Paperback/288 pages
ISBN: 0812980794
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" . . . action-packed with intrigue and suspense."

A family saga about a young stunningly attractive middle-class couple who become philanthropic billionaires sounds like a yawner. But Jonathan Dee manages to weave prose in his novel, “The Privileges,” that makes reading it like watching a roulette wheel. The suspense awaiting doom for the golden couple and their two pampered children turns out to be a page-turner with an unwelcome end.

The story begins with Adam, a pipe fitter’s son, and Cynthia, daughter of divorced parents, at their glamorous wedding paid for by Cynthia’s stepfather. Time advances quickly. Adam joins a private equity firm and becomes his boss’s son-like protégée. But Adam doesn’t desire inheritance; he wants to earn his own fortune.

His felonious career begins when he accidentally meets a “Wall Street tyke” who works for Merrill Lynch. Adam is exhilarated at the new-found potential for amassing a fortune. The two men move to the margins and begin to share insider information, collecting millions they deposit in international banks. When Adam refuses his boss’s offer to take over the company, he is fired. He confesses his swindling ways to his wife, believing his actions “were the most notable thing” he’d done in his life. Cynthia encourages Adam to continue and together they covet wealth without guilt.

This is a game of the “nouveau riche” who navigate minefields readers expect will bring them doom, such as when a commuter train departs with the children because Cynthia steps off to help another passenger, or when her daughter April is involved in an automobile accident with drug dealers, or when son Jonas, while researching “outsider art” (art of the insane), is taken captive by a crazed artist.

It is story of a people who set their own standards, where values and morals are violated without dire consequences, action-packed with intrigue and suspense.


Reviewer: Kate Padilla