Laurence O’Bryan: Conspiracies and Truths – The core of The Manhattan Puzzle

We’re delighted to welcome Laurence O’Bryan to the blog today, who has written a guest post about his latest novel, The Manhattan Puzzle, and what lies at its core – conspiracies…

The Manhattan Puzzle

My new novel The Manhattan Puzzle features a conspiracy at its heart, a plot to win more power by some of the wealthiest people on the planet, a Western hedge fund chairman, and a senior Chinese banker.

I think it’s accepted now that conspiracies do happen. There are even laws against them and prosecutions do take place. One 2012 U.S. Senate report charged HSBC with laundering 12 million euros for opium and cannabis smugglers. It’s hard to believe isn’t it?

If someone claimed a few years ago that major banks launder drugs money most people would have laughed it off as a wild conspiracy theory. But HSBC aren’t alone in activities that would surprise your maiden aunt. In 2011, Citigroup paid a $285 million settlement with the SEC for defrauding investors. And those, I am afraid to say, are just two examples of our biggest banks being involved in activities that have come to the notice of the relevant authorities.

The financial sector has been exposed time and again as a place where very dubious activities are going on. There’s the miss-selling of insurance scandal in the UK, the Halifax overcharging scandal and the foreign exchange overcharging scandal in Ireland. Put any of these terms into a search engine and you will come up with the background detail on these scandals.

Are you sensing a pattern? Is it just me who spots these coming up every week? Am I oversensitive perhaps?

Maybe the financial sector should just be left alone to cream anything they can off the gullible.


Because we are gullible.

Did you work out the correct foreign exchange rate you should be paying or report that man with a bag of money and white powder on his nose walking into the bank manager’s office?

I know we’re not supposed to believe in conspiracies. JFK was killed by a lone gunman. There were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, which could have killed us all in thirty minutes. Men did land on the moon and the take pictures of themselves taking off again. I believe what I’m told on the news every night. Why wouldn’t I?
The above examples must be cases of simple errors and oversights on the part of the individuals involved. We should all close our eyes and let them get on with it. And just hope to God there’s still some money left in our bank accounts, and that they let us have our money back when we need it. Because the truth is, conspiracies are nothing new. They’ve been going on since forever. And no one gets hurt, do they?

But what about the suicides over bank debt or the drug mules that end up in prison and their lives ruined to keep that sorry trade running? Collateral damage is what I think they call it.

So what have I got to add to all this?

Well, The Manhattan Puzzle provides one thing that may warm your heart. Payback. The novel has explicit violence from the start. Be warned. One woman inflicts a very bloody revenge on a Manhattan banker. And though you may not approve of such things in real life, you might enjoy it in fiction. I certainly enjoyed writing it.

Because I’m tired of bankers being lauded for all their money in movies and books and magazines. I’m tired of the greed-is-good generation lording it over us. They may think they have all the toys, but there are some things that can’t be charged to a platinum card.

Love, loyalty and trust cannot be bought. And every one of us can have them, without having to steal and cheat. Because none of us can escape one certain rule of nature, you reap what you sow.
They certainly do in The Manhattan Puzzle. I hope you enjoy it.

– Laurence O’Bryan

The Manhattan Puzzle is out in paperback right now!

Other Articles

Book Trailer: City on Fire by Don Winslow

The new trailer for Don Winslow's CITY ON FIRE. Exploring classic themes of loyalty, betrayal, honour, and corruption on both sides of the law, City on Fire is a contemporary Iliad from Don Winslow. Read More


We want to hear from you! HarperFiction is proud to launch Killing It: The Killer Reads Competition for undiscovered writers. All you need is a good idea, a passion for the dark side and a dollop of determination! Launching at the start of 2021 on January  7th, this is… Read More

All the events from the crime authors you love

HarperCollins has launched BookGig, a publisher agnostic online events platform that aims to connect authors with new and existing readers following the growth in live author events. Want to meet your favourite author? Get a book signed? Hear them debate the merits of cosy crime versus serial killers? The… Read More