Cream City Hustle — A Personal Finance Thriller. My debut novel follows the struggle of one young man as he seeks to secure his financial future in a system that constantly applies downward force and a drug dealer bent on his absolute destruction. In the heart of Milwaukee, Marcus dreams of attending college – minus the scourge of debt – and building a firm financial foundation.
Through misfortune he crosses paths with Caine, a would be drug lord from Chicago who has relocated to the Cream City to build an empire. His name – derived from cocaine – was earned in Chicago, where he cut his teeth in the drug game and in a mere four years, had become the largest cocaine dealer in the city. When all is said and done, and the snow has settled in the Cream City, only one man will remain standing.
Through mystery, imagination and humor, Cream City Hustle weaves personal finance concepts into a tale of danger, deception and avarice. Available at Amazon.com in Kindle and Paperback Editions.
Sin City Greed — Released in February 2015, this second novel – like Cream City Hustle – is a Personal Finance Thriller. Set in the Las Vegas Valley, it follows eight retirees as they plot to recover their stolen money; think American Greed (the CNBC show) meets Ocean’s Eleven. A preview, the prologue, follows:
Las Vegas. Near the intersection of Paradise and East Flamingo Roads. From his second story office Carlton F. Morrison III, CEO of Blackstone Financial Services Group, watched as the sun set on the mid-June day. Soon the distant lights would shine bright and the strip would come to life.
“Do you require anything else this evening, Mr. Morrison?” Darlene, his personal assistant, asked as she rapped lightly on his open door and peeked through the doorway.
“No, Dear, nothing else tonight. I just need to tie up a few loose ends and then I will be out of here. Have a good night.”
“Thank you. You too, Mr. Morrison.”
He’d made the decision a few days ago but had put off actually doing it. Now there was no time. He had received the second notification from Bank of Las Vegas earlier today. If he didn’t get a massive infusion of capital soon, the boutique investment advisory firm he had spent 17 years building from nothing would wither and die here in the Nevada desert. He required additional capital and they required proof of liquid assets before they would increase his credit limit. He had three days.
“How did it come to this?” Carl asked the empty room. No answer was forthcoming. It seemed like a lifetime ago that BFSG was humming right along. Both Divisions, Equities – where most of his client’s money was invested – and Real Estate – where most of the firm’s money was invested to fund internal operations – were performing spectacularly.
That was no longer the case. While the Equities Division continued to post strong returns, the Real Estate Division had been devastated over the last few years as he had increased his real estate holdings, a mistake in hindsight, just as the meltdown in the Las Vegas housing market accelerated.
He had three days to increase the balance in his Bank of the West account and submit a statement to Bank of Las Vegas. He only had one source of capital at his disposal … client accounts from the Equities Division. Sitting down at his desk, he woke his computer from sleep mode and opened the BFSG Client’s Accounts spreadsheet, the document containing all relevant data, including account holdings and balances. The first order of business? Copying the document, creating a shadow spreadsheet.
With the two spreadsheets open on his dual monitor setup, he pulled up the first client account, Jim and Phyllis Abbott, and placed their upcoming quarterly statement on the desktop with the original spreadsheet. With an account balance of $1,784,200.61 at the end of the previous month, they were among his more affluent clients. Next, he opened Photoshop, where it shared the second monitor with the shadow spreadsheet. Seven minutes later he had removed $75,000 from the Abbott’s account and deposited the money into BFSG’s corporate account with Bank of the West. The Abbott’s quarterly statement – the one scheduled to be mailed next Tuesday – was ‘updated’ to show a new balance of $1,892,935.93. That was just about in line with the 6% monthly return he guaranteed his clients.
Next up was Charles Bingman with an account balance of $1,082,369.29. “You’ve done pretty well for yourself at only 58, Charles,” Carl mumbled into the dimly lit room. Forty eight clients later, the Bank of the West account showed an updated balance of $3,831,527.03. A significant difference from the starting balance of $81,527.03. Glancing at the clock, he saw that it was 1:26 a.m. God it was late. He needed to get home. He was absolutely drained. Saving all of his documents, with the shadow documents saved to an external hard drive, he placed his computer in sleep mode and turned off the lights, locking the office door behind him.
Somewhere deep inside, Carl knew this was the beginning of the end.