Love and war

<strong>The Exchange-Rate Between Love and Money</strong>

Thomas Leveritt <em>Harvill Secker, 368

Frito and Bannerman are business partners and best friends, yet they’ve failed at more businesses than they’ve had hot dinners. But Frito (the instigator) is undaunted; Bannerman can’t help but tag along. He adores Frito, although “There’s no way I’d let my sister, say, go out with him. Even though I love him, and I pretty much hate my sister . . . He’s half a person. I have no idea what the other half is.”

Now the pair are aiming to make a mint by importing and selling Bosnian beer to socially conscious young Londoners. Of course, as the business grows, it becomes sensible to move to Sarajevo – it’s 2003 and the city is awash in reconstruction funds waiting to be mopped up by the right kind of mercenary. Plus, Frito is in love with the toothsome Clare Leischman, Swiss human rights lawyer and breathtaking sex goddess. So what if Frito and Bannerman find themselves hunting alleged war criminals? It’s just another kind of consulting, isn’t it? And so what if Bannerman is also in love with Clare?

At heart, The Exchange-Rate Between Love and Money is a tumult of avarice and violence and romance: at once brutal, crazed and hilarious. Leveritt’s command of language and narrative makes this a highly promising debut novel.

This article first appeared in the 04 February 2008 issue of the New Statesman, God