First-time novelist Christina Alger’s pedigree reads just like that of her characters’ in The Darlings: Harvard, NYU School of Law, work at Goldman Sachs. Alger takes the adage, “write what you know,” to heart and tells an entertaining story of the rise and fall of some of the “1%” during the financial crash of 2008.
The book opens at 2:00 a.m. on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, with the alleged suicide of Morty Reis off the Tappan Zee Bridge. Reis’ investment fund is suspected of a Bernie Madoff-style ponzi fraud.
An investment firm owned by Carter Darling has trusted Morty’s firm with a large percentage of its portfolio. Carter’s son-in-law is counsel, seeking restitution for the firm. His wife, Carter’s daughter, works for an outside law firm, but becomes involved in the intrigue, which ultimately tests the bonds of family against the forces of greed and the desire for integrity.
Alger’s tale of indifferent avarice begs for depiction on the screen, where 99% of us can wallow in the guilty pleasure of watching the fall of the rich. The Darlings is not a perfect novel, and it’s hard to root for such lowdown characters, but this cruise through the opulent Park Avenue Brownstones and high rise offices of the high-powered high and mighty is entertaining, indeed.