The Bottom Line: Duped delivers the excitement of a heist film with the exotic adventure of a globetrotting spy tale.
Hotelier Sam Marsh drives a Maserati and has a boat he sails off the Southern California coast when the mood strikes. But underneath the dreamy exterior, his life is in a downward spiral. Sam’s Palm Springs hotel is in financial trouble and he owes his ex-wife alimony. If he can’t turn things around soon, she’ll soon own some or all of his stake in the business.
His friend and accountant Tony has a crazy-sounding real estate deal that, if it worked, could solve all their problems. A Nigerian friend has three clients in Lagos who purportedly want to buy five homes in California. All are wealthy Nigerian military, who want to get a collective $37 million out of the country. All they need to do is transfer their cash to Sam’s shell account in Switzerland.
Sam’s skepticism is curbed by their past success together. Sam has a shell account in Switzerland that, years earlier, the pair used to move money from Haiti to Panama. They each netted three quarters of a million dollars in the deal.
But as Sam is about to find out, Nigeria is a different beast entirely. Author Stephen Maitland-Lewis, himself a former international investment banker and attorney, has created a harrowing tale of adventure and greed that readers won’t soon forget. Through deft character development, Maitland-Lewis easily a believable case that Sam would risk everything – like posing as a military consultant, or putting up $150,000 for an escrow account – to turn his life around.
The deeper Sam gets, the more attractive Duped becomes. While Maitland-Lewis’ dialogue-driven writing makes for fast-reading, well-crafted adventures through portions of Africa, Europe and California will please the travel-starved masses.