Chance in Hell
A strong woman fights back
A few years ago, when Aad Jacobs, former CEO of the ING Group, appeared on a Dutch television show, he was offered a challenge: if he could come up with the plot of a thriller, the show would find a writer for the book. Jacobs accepted the challenge and devised a plot in which a small Dutch investment bank manages to land a major deal: the takeover of an American cable company by a larger Dutch cable company. The dealmaker himself, however, never gets to finalize the deal.
Writer Charles den Tex developed the plot into the thriller Chance in Hell. The head of the small investment bank, Standard Capital, is Ernst Dellenge. He’s an ambitious man, anxious to break into the big league. Motivated not by money, but by glory and the thrill of the game, he lands a job that’s actually too big for Standard Capital. It takes every contact and trick Dellenge knows, but then he’s unexpectedly routed. An accidental fall in the bathroom proves fatal, but the reader knows better. This was no accident.
From that moment on, Chance in Hell focuses on the real main character, and the suspense mounts in earnest. Young Matti van der Donk takes over the negotiations, but is thwarted at every turn – because she’s young, because she hasn’t yet mastered the tricks of the trade, because she’s a woman, because she isn’t unscrupulous enough.
In a mad rush, she marshals ‘endless facts, figures and statistics,’ whips herself into a frenzy of creativity and launches an all-out offensive to save the takeover deal. Popping pills to stay awake, she ignores both the clock and her body. However, the head of the Dutch firm, like that of the American one, owes his position to family ties. To get her foot in the door Matti has to rely on her own wits and psychological insight – always stay one step ahead of the game – even when she runs into fraud and feels the sharp edge of a stiletto pressed to her spine.
The book is impressive, not just for its fast pace, but also for the cool vitality of the language in which the story unfolds. The understated humour – ‘The more expensive a suit is, the more fun it is to cut it up’ – makes this financial thriller an entertaining read from beginning to end.