RED NOTICE by Bill Browder

This is a fantastic book, a riveting page turner that had me still awake at 130am. It is fantastic in a literal sense of the word, being barely believable but is in fact fact, and in the grab you by the guts a great reading experience. The author, Bill Browder, has had an extraordinary life, and is hardly the shy retiring type in his telling of his story. Even if his life had taken a different turn from the path it took, I fully expect he would have been an outstanding success at whatever he turned his hand to.

This book covers a lot of ground. The author's early life provides an intriguing background as to how he ended up in Soviet Russia making investors rich, in charge of what was in the 1990s/early 2000s Russia's largest hedge fund. It all comes unstuck when, Bill in trying to expose corruption, gets a bit too big for his boots. In 2005 on a routine fortnightly trip back to Moscow from London, he is denied entry and forced to return to London. Bill and his team expose a tax fraud, which eventually leads to the imprisonment and tortuous death of one of the Moscow based lawyers working on the case, Sergei Magnitsky.

Bill immediately turns from high flying investment whizz kid to human rights campaigner. Although he is continually full of his own bravado and self importance, occasionally unlikeable, he is incredibly tenacious, determined to bring justice to Sergei, to expose corruption at all levels of Russian government, and in the process has most likely placed himself on Putin's hit list. A Red Notice is the extradition request served by Russia on Interpol to arrest Browder on charges of tax evasion. He was actually tried in absentia, both Britain and the US refusing to act on it. He is still a wanted man in Russia. Magnitsky was tried and found guilty even after his death.

The story takes Bill to the top  of the US State department, looking for ways to hurt those Russian bureaucrats who were involved in the corruption that Magnitsky uncovered. Once successful, Putin in turn tightens his own screws by forbidding Americans from adopting Russian babies and children. Anyone who decides to take on Putin has to have big balls, and it is this underlying theme in the book which makes it so compelling. Will Bill be the next to receive a plutonium laced drink or a poke on the leg with a poisoned umbrella? The cover blurb, for once, is 100% accurate. I can't think of a better description than what those few words say. 

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