THE FIRST BILLION
The high-testosterone worlds of fighter pilots and investment bankers collide in this briskly paced thriller packed with genuine surprises. John ”Jett” Gavallan, a Gulf War vet whose San Francisco-based firm is reeling from the dotcom crash, bets his heavily leveraged company on one very big deal — a lucrative IPO for Mercury Broadband, a tech upstart owned by Russian bigwig Konstantin Kirov. The hitch? Kirov may have more in common with Gotti than Gates. Reich, author of the 1997 best-seller Numbered Account, has a tendency to overwrite: A church dome has ”golden gilt swirls,” while a subplot suggesting a secret KGB strike against America strains credulity. But the main threads of his story seem deliciously plausible, and the short chapters build a DSL-speed momentum.