Friday, October 06, 2006

Company Man, by Joseph Finder

Last year I listened to Finder's last book, Paranoia, and it was such a good time that I have been dogging the library waiting for another.

This was another corporate suspense novel, which I rather enjoy, but this one had a lot more going on than did Paranoia. Nick Conover is the CEO of a major manufacturer of office furniture, and he is a single parent to a surly teenage son and a pre-teen daughter. His wife died in a car accident the previous year, and now Nick is the town pariah after a layoff of 5,000 employees. So it's no wonder that the small town police are half-hearted in their attempt to find out who has been breaking into Nick's house and leaving ominous messages scrawled on the wall, even after the perpetrator kills the family dog and leaves it floating in the pool.

Looming just as large is the sneaky way that some of the people in his own company are trying to undermine his authority and sell his company to a Pacific Rim investment company. But the real dilemma begins when Nick kills and intruder on his property, and spends the rest of the book avoiding the law.

A complex story, with many well-written characters made this a real "tape turner". Yes, I got this one on tape instead of CD, so I had to use an actual tape player. This is not the most "family friendly" book, with F-bombs falling like rain, as they do in most detective fiction. Yes, there is a detective, an African-American woman named Audrey Rhymes. Her husband is one of the layoffs from Nick's factory, and their marriage is a difficult one. He is sitting at hime, watching TV and getting fat. She is losing patience with him while trying to be understanding. She is a devout Christian, and there are many Bible references and a refreshing amount of spiritual content that is not designed to make her look bad, as so many books do. And this juxtaposition of this good woman with a rather profane line of work was done, seemingly, with no agenda. I have no idea what Joseph Finder's take on Christianity is, but this depiction worked very well as part of the story.

I haven't used a "star system" for rating these books, but I guess if I were giving them out on a one through four scale, this would be a 3 star book.

Don Marsh

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