Credentials: An Economic Duel (Lost Book 3), by Rand McGreal

Seven stars

First and foremost, a large thank you to Reedsy Discovery and Rand McGreal for providing me with a copy of this publication, which allows me to provide you with an unbiased review.

Always one eager to expand my reading horizons, I chose an ARC of this novel to see if I could make heads of tails of what Rand McGreal sought to profess. Labelled an ‘economic thriller’, McGreal explores the fast-paced world of economic policy set against the backdrop of a monetary conference hosted by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in Canada. A little-known economist, whose theories are controversial and not widely accepted, finds himself in the middle of a clash with the economic establishment. The clashes spill outside of the conference rooms and onto the streets of Victoria, leaving a bloody wake as some try to scrub out any competition in this cut throat world of economic policy-setting. A decent read for those who love economics and a well-crafted piece of fiction.

Peter Barrie never saw himself as a superstar in academia, but his economic theories are something he holds dear. Branding himself as a New Market economist, Barrie works at a small community college, but has made quite the stir in his recent publications, analysing and being highly critical of policies put forth by the many who espouse monetary policy. His exploration of post-disaster rebuilding and views on the government’s role in the economy leave many scowling and shaking their heads, but his obscurity has left Barrie out of too many substantial discussions on the topic.

When Barrie is asked to make the closing speech at the IMF’s conference on monetary policy, he is overjoyed. With events being held in Victoria, the provincial capital of British Columbia, Barrie prepares to attend and hopes to peddle his newly finished book as well. While his publicist is a tad leery, Barrie convinces her to attend as well, promising that there will be others at the conference who might be in need of some literary aid.

As soon as Barrie arrives, he connects with some of his fellow New Market clan, knowing they will be vastly outnumbered by the mainstream Keynesians. Barrie seeks to make his mark, but knows that he is a wanted man, both because of his views and due to the fact that he has no solid academic credentials. After befriending a Chinese economist with a long history of alternate views, Barrie tries to forge onwards and make the most of his experience at the conference.

As expected, the clashes begin from the outset, where economic viewpoints are plentiful. However, Barrie is pushed into the middle of some major skirmishes, both within the conference and on the streets of Victoria, all in hopes of hurting him, reputation and body alike. Barrie will have to rely on his wit and new-found friendships to protect him, though it may not be enough. Economists may look stuffy, but there’s a darker side when they views have been maligned, as Peter Barrie is about to discover. Rand McGreal keeps the story moving in what can only be describes as a strong economic thriller.

I will be the first to admit that economics have never been of great interest to me. That being said, I am always open to new avenues of learning, even if it is embedded in a piece of fiction. Rand McGreal certainly does add a great del of education in this piece of fiction, bandying around some strong economic theories as he develops a strong thriller narrative throughout. This is surely a piece for those who love the world of economics, or at lest understand them, though McGreal does a nice job explaining things along the way for the reader.

Peter Barrie proved to be a decent protagonist in this piece. McGreal offers up some great insight into his life and thoughts, though he does not dwell too much on personal backstory. What could be called character development is more Barrie’s ability to survive, as he is targeted numerous times for his views and sentiments. The reader can connect with Barrie easily and might even grow to admire him by the time to book comes to a close.

McGreal develops some strong secondary characters throughout the piece as well. Used not only to espouse the Keynesian theories, these others push a strong villainous agenda, offering a decent balance to Barrie’s thoughts. The reader can learn much about economics by understanding these characters, who find themselves on both sides of the argument. There is something intriguing here, though I was not drawn to any of those who graced the pages of the book. Still, it was an eye-opening experience for me to see all the perspectives on offer.

McGreal develops a great narrative from the outset, keeping the reader involved from the early pages. While there is no getting around the economics-rich writing, McGreal develops a great narrative that moves along at a decent pace. Wonderful characters and an ever-advancing plot cannot be discounted throughout the piece, even if I got lost in many of the economic discussions found herein. Using shorter chapters, the story propels ahead as the reader is educated repeatedly. McGreal uses some added pizzazz by creating press clippings to report on the progress of events in Victoria, keeping the reader feeling fully involved in the entire endeavour. While the content was not entirely to my liking, the book seemed to flow pretty well and will surely impress a specific cross-section of readers.

Kudos, Mr. McGreal, for a decent piece. I admit that I won’t be rushing out to read the other two novels in the Lost series, but I can see you know your stuff and can transmit it to those who love this genre!

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: