A prosaic financial thriller about an Oxford economics professor whose students plot to destroy the free world’s banking institutions. The "initial offering" here promises to pay off big time. Its disturbing crux is that borrowing creates links among the world’s banks and that if an institution’s billions in loans were suddenly called, the bank, unprepared for the contingency, would collapse, causing other banks to fail as a worldwide financial crisis ensues. That’s what Professor Wallace Bradley tells a group of students he’s culled from Oxford’s elite and dubbed the Pegasus Forum. Into the financial world his protégés go to set banks against each other by manipulating them to declare loans due and payable, fully and immediately. Journalist James Emerson alone offers some hope of averting spreadsheet Armageddon. He edits an investigative financial column, and something arouses his suspicion as banks in the Far East fail. In particular, he sniffs out a link between the death of his brother, a student at Oxford, and the forum. Emerson, his editor, and a friend, a hacker extraordinaire, try to outfox Bradley and his squadron of revolutionaries. The latter, unfortunately, never become more than stereotypes: vixen Annie van Aalst, for example, treacherous in boardroom and bedroom. At midpoint, Schofield reveals the apparent motive behind Bradley’s scheme: the professor’s mother was brutally tortured by the Japanese during WWII, compelling Bradley to destroy Japan’s economy. His students also harbor deep resentments, the core of the plot becoming an overcooked story of psychic revenge. Meanwhile, the author’s frequent, extended, text-bookish explanations of complicated economic dynamics stallmomentum, and his prose lacks the freshness and clever twists needed to lend his debut novel some badly needed style. As Jakarta’s markets fall, so does the tale. Only if following money-market interest rates quickens the pulse.