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    Review of POWER PLAY by Joseph Finder

    St. Martin's Press, August 2007

    Jake Landry is nothing more than a trouble-shooter at Hammond Aerospace. When something goes wrong with the line, Landry figures out what happened and what needs to be done. But when a competitor's plane crashes at a Paris air show and his boss is out of the office generating hundreds of millions of dollars in orders, Landry gets tasked to take his place at the annual meeting of Hammond's top corporate executives. Even worse, his ex-girlfriend, now the CEO's aide, goes along for the trip.

    The meeting gets off to a conventional start with excellent meals, lots of food, and a lecture on how they're going to be roughing it in the remote Canadian cabin where they can't use their cellphones, can't access the office, can't even find a road nearby. Landry even manages to determine the cause of their competitor's crash. But the corporate getaway turns into a nightmare when a team of kidnappers appears, holding them ransom for a hundred million dollars.

    The firm's top executives are powerful men, and are used to playing high-stakes games, but that doesn't prepare them for the violence or ruthlessness that the kidnappers offer. Only Landry, with his sealed juvenile record, knows the danger they're in--that it'll be easier for the kidnappers to make sure no one survives as a possible witness once they have their money.

    Author Joseph Finder (see more reviews of novels by Finder) specializes in thrillers where ordinary businessmen are thrust into extraordinary circumstances, and POWER PLAY is certainly in this mode. In POWER PLAY, Finder tones down the psychological aspects of the danger, instead emphasising the physical nature of the danger and the confrontation protagonist Landry faces.

    Finder is an engaging writer and his prose definitely pulled me into the story and made me care about Landry's survival and success. The novel is a hard one to put down, with hard-charging pacing and a steady escalation of tension until the ultimate climax. On a personal level, I enjoyed the southern California aerospace background as I grew up in this area and my first job was at an aerospace plant--as usual, Finder does his research and makes the industry where he places his action come to life.

    I enjoyed POWER PLAY a lot, but I did think Finder might have stretched out the final showdown a bit, giving us a little more of what was going on with Landry and the others. Unlike the protagonists in some of Finder's other novels, Landry came off as a bit of a superhero--not quite the everyman we can identify with.

    Four Stars

    Reviewed 6/29/07

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