Guest Post: The Lure of Easy Money

This is a guest post by Rosemary Mccracken

I was a financial journalist when I set out to write my first mystery novel. I interviewed scores of financial planners and investment managers. I’d attended their conferences. I understood the issues they faced. There was, still is, a huge concern about the bad apples in their business. The financial services industry revolves around money, so it provides opportunities for those clever and greedy enough to challenge the system.

Those financial fraudsters terrified me. One was Bernie Madoff, the New York money manager who swindled his clients out of US$65 billion in a massive Ponzi scheme. And we had financial crooks of our own in Canada, such as the Bay Street advisor who operated a classic confidence scam. He’d get close to wealthy clients, dazzle them with his interest and concern. Then he’d sell them bogus stocks and drain their bank accounts.

This was the fuel I needed as an author. A topic that would resonate with me for the months—truth be told, the years—that it takes to complete a novel. I decided to make the central character of my mystery novel a financial advisor, and my Pat Tierney protagonist began to take shape in my mind. Pat believes convicted financial scamsters get off too easily. She wants to see prison terms and hefty fines. What makes her blood boil is the crooks who go after ordinary folk, people who’ve worked hard to pay off their mortgages and put away money for retirement. 

So I started to write a financial thriller, although at the time I’d never heard of financial thrillers. But I soon discovered a host of authors who were writing in this sub-genre. Their books are popular because everyone understands the lure of easy money, money we didn’t have to work hard for. 

Most of us are content to keep our money fantasies as fantasies, to daydream about what our lives would be like if we won a lottery or received a surprise inheritance. The few of us who aren’t content go on to commit financial crimes. Rob banks. Skim money from clients’ investment accounts. Steal personal information in order to write cheques and take out mortgages and credit cards in someone else’s name.

Some people even murder for money.

As an amateur sleuth with a financial background, Pat Tierney recognizes the red flags for fraud, money laundering, and other financial crimes. They’re all crimes you and I can fall prey to. Uncharted Waters, Pat’s most recent novel-length adventure, features a scam to defraud homeowners.

I stay away from financial jargon and the details of investing. Financial planning is Pat’s work, but I keep it on the back burner. Pat knows that money isn’t about figures on a spreadsheet or the intricacies of an investment portfolio. Money is about people: the young couple saving to buy their first home, the older couple worried they may outlive their savings.

And she knows that some people can never have enough money.

And that’s Pat Tierney’s bottom line.

Rosemary McCracken lives, writes, and teaches writing in Toronto. Her four Pat Tierney mysteries—Safe Harbor, Black Water, Raven Lake, and Uncharted Waters—are available on Amazon, Rakuten Kobo, and Barnes & Noble. Safe Harbor was a Debut Dagger finalist, and “The Sweetheart Scamster,” a Pat Tierney short story published in Thirteen, was nominated for a Derringer Award.

Find more of Rosemary’s work.

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