Title: The Crazy in Babylon
Author: Darrin J Friedman
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
Date of Publication: 11 July 2017
A top notch money broker battles depression as he tries to overcome the humiliation of a terminated work contract and an untimely divorce.
Being the best is always not easy. It comes at a price of self- sacrifice, determination, steadfastness and most importantly a steady temperament. Yale graduate Dan is well aware of the demanding nature of his work but his bipolarity will not allow him to focus through the very basic of daily activities. With events, both in his professional and personal life moving out of his favour, it is a rough ride as Dan struggles to make ends meet and regain his lost vigour.
Darrin J Friedman creates a fast paced thriller that will leave the readers asking for more. The story revolves around Dan’s personal and professional failures only to reveal the hidden darker realities of the brokerage industry. Sooner or later the incidents hint at realms of global political scenarios. With the constant intrusion of the CIA on the one hand and the underworld mafia on the other hand, Dan is in for a surprising set of mishaps that are far from putting his life together. He gets reappointed into his previous workplace on the basis of his ingenuity and diligence. Is it a sudden realisation on the part of his boss or are there more names at stake?
Becca is the biggest surprise, both to Dan and the readers. Initially she may appear to be a stupid and selfish person but Friedman instils in her the attributes of a strong lead female protagonist. Though the story revolves around Dan, it is Becca who shows great moral strength, courage and clear insights. Things take a toll as he is sent on a secret mission by the largest stake holder of the firm. A murky Bess sends along her granddaughter Becca for accompaniment as the duo move from posh locations and grand hotels, oodles of cash at their disposal and American military spying equipment. Underneath the glitz and glamour of elitism are the not so subtle hints of panopticism, surveillance, cyber-attacks, artificial intelligence, the banes of military nuclear weaponry and the difficulties of choice that harsh situations provide. With a clarity of thought, Friedman is straight forward in expressing his ideas. What is remarkable is the unbiased and open minded positions he is able to take in wheeling the entire narrative to a positive end despite dramatic and heart breaking downfalls. The scenery is not elaborated in detail except for mere mention of geographical locations such as Vegas or Washington DC. This enhances the focus on the characters and their personal histories.
Most characters are round and each is drawn distinctly from the others. They evolve as the story progresses to reveal the psychological reasons behind their behavior that is eventually shaped by their experiences. This chiaroscuro is the very spirit of the novel. It delves in the darkness of the world and human nature in which the rules of the game change upon shifts of fortune. At all times it is both a monetary and a mind game.
However, most of the characters recurrently use curse words in place of meaningful English language adjectives which after the first third may be a bit unsettling. Yet Friedman never misses to highlight the inherent goodness present in people who are hardened by the world. The plot is highly episodic and non- linear. Reminiscences glide from the present to flashbacks of the past and pining for a better future.
Dialogues are crisp and conversational. The second half of the novel races through events at a break neck speed as more characters and drastic defeats add to the climactic asphyxiations. Emotions run riot as Dan and his ex-wife feel estranged; Dan’s own drug regulated existence and Becca’s vengeful attitude caused by childhood molestation after the death of her mother. The power of a woman to woman relationship is at the heart of the novel.
It is the femme fatale Becca who brings a resolution by balancing passion and profession in a truly superhuman way. Above all, it does away with the notion of mental illness as a barrier to performing well in life. The author’s note at the end of the book is a judicious inclusion. With some added cadence and detailing of plot, the novel can be readily materialised into a major motion picture. Friedman reveals with sensitivity the bad things that happen to good people but with patience and perseverance a suitable end can be accomplished.
Informative, racy and an unpredictably jolted ride that fascinates the imagination.