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    Review of COMPANY MAN by Joseph Finder (see his website)

    St. Martin's Press, April 2005

    A few years back, Nick Conover was the darling of Wall Street. But in the face of competition from China, he's had to cut back, laying off half the ten thousand employees who once worked for the office furniture company where he's the CEO. Nicknamed 'Slash,' Nick faces a town full of enemies. Despite the gated community where he lives, he's being harassed. Someone has broken into his house and spraypainted a cryptic message on his wall. When someone (that same someone?) murders his dog and throws the body in the pool, Nick knows he's got to protect his family--he installs a new security system and borrows a loaner gun from his company security director. Still, what will he do when confronted with an actual invader--with his children at stake?

    Thousands of layoffs haven't been enough to make his company successful. With poor earnings, the investment company that owns his company starts sending in new directors, making new rules. Customers start canceling orders when they hear rumors that the company is going to move overseas. At first Nick dismisses the rumors, but eventually he realizes that there may well be a plot afoot--a plot that will break every promise he's ever made.

    Author Joseph Finder (see more reviews of novels by Finder) weaves together the corporate takeover story and the story of Nick attempting to protect his family even as everything seems to take turns for the worse. His teenaged son is rebelling and experimenting with drugs. His wife was killed in a car accident, but Nick insists on turning his house into a shrine for her memory. Only one woman seems to respond to Nick--and if she ever learns his horrible secret, Nick knows she'll hate him too.

    COMPANY MAN reads like a movie script--each decision leading inevitably to a catastrophy until it seems impossible that Nick and his family can survive--only for things to take another turn for the worse. Finder's strong writing makes Nick sympathetic despite a number of strikes against him (readers of the business press know that CEOs really should pay closer attention to the numbers, and everyone should make more rational decisions when faced with personal catastrophy). Police detective Audrey Rhimes makes a strong secondary character with her combination of innocence and strength. In contrast, Scott, Todd, and the other evil corporate types come off a bit flat--and Nick's stakes in the corporate struggle don't really grab the reader's emotion.

    Readers who (like me) enjoy fast-paced thriller action will find COMPANY MAN a hard book to put down. I confess, I read it in a single sitting.

    Three Stars

    Reviewed 4/04/05

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