The Tycoon's Tale by Valerie ThornhillWritten before the 2008 financial crash, this witty and entertaining short novel uncannily predicts it. This modern version of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, relates with humour and insight a compelling story of the impact of events on a multi-millionaire who is forced to question his role as an international financier, his neglect of family life and the everyday activities which can be more fulfilling than endless jetting around the world, playing the money market.


At the helicopter controls, with the co-pilot clutching his mobile phone and a black postcard, the new owner of a Latin American electricity company targets his helipad.

‘Why’s the wretched thing juddering?’ Jonathan Tytheson mutters. Down he thrusts it to fan the upturned faces, delighting when they cringe for cover. How curiously like the chickens he used to chase in his mother’s yard until they crouched, easy targets for his stick. His strategy is to hop from Heathrow airport to the hub of his empire in London’s Docklands, undetected by the journalist ratpack. He leaves sunlight in San Cristobál to land in cloudier daytime all in less than 24 hours, cheating the passage of time from summer to winter to maximise his output.

Not a minute to spare. Where’s that young Sebastian he has given the chance in a lifetime to be his personal aide?

‘What does an imageless post-card, black on one side and “You did it!” on the other mean, Sebastian?’ He thrusts it at the young man awaiting him at the foot of the gangway. Just slightly further back, a tentative smile coming and going as she assesses the boss’s mood, his personal secretary tenders the carefully selected letters in order of urgency, while Sebastian holds out his boss’s diary of engagements refused, half accepted or confirmed. It’s grasped with a grunted querying sound as the mouse-haired, short-legged man sporting a multimillionaire’s tan attempts to stride towards his office. Sebastian peers forward to whisper explanations in his left ear while Margaret, the letter-laden secretary, trots to his right, a fraction further back; other various office hacks bring up the rear. The outer ring of grey-suited onlookers gathers behind whispering themselves through the sliding doors into the reception area, keyed up in expectation.

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