Sometimes we all have a bad day. Sometimes a really bad day. When I had one of those really bad days a few weeks ago, I needed a big distraction. I picked up Finder’s Company Man and delved into yet another of his thrilling corporate dramas. In comparing Finder’s novels, I enjoyed High Crimes best, followed by Paranoia and then Company Man. In Company Man, Finder gives us a decent thriller, and a page turner with a solid plot, as well as the good writing that always follows – but this is still a story that lacks the kind of imagination and originality he gives us in Paranoia or the shocking ending of High Crimes.
Nick Conover is our protagonist, a self-made successful man, and CEO of Stratton Corporation, a man who has not had much luck on his side for a while. His beloved wife dies in an accident for which he miserably blames himself. He now has the full care of his two children, a sweet daughter and an older ‘troubled’ son. A disgruntled employee has been harassing him with messages after Nick’s first major layoff. One night, he enters Nick’s house an intruder. Caught in a wild fit of terror, Nick repeatedly shoots the intruder just outside his mansion. He is out of his mind momentarily, paranoid that he has committed a crime, but what ensues is the unexpected turn in his character: He goes without reporting the accident. His buddy Eddie persuades him to get rid of the body. He acts as his accomplice, begging him not to say anything to the police. Nick is the upstanding citizen role model who has been put in a terrible situation and chooses selfishly what he thinks is in best interest of him and his children.
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With the heavy burden of the murder weighing on his mind, he is hardly positioned to handle the surfacing spies working against him at his company. The Chairman of he Board has decided to export the bulk of the corporation to China. Nick disagrees bitterly and fights against the decision, and for saving jobs, even as he is the mistaken victim for cutting jobs, with a nickname “slasher”, since his first layoff. The CEO of a corporation is the man on stage, the face behind all the action and the hero or the villain, and there is no exception for Nick.
The body has shown up somewhere, and there is, as there always is, a way to connect the murder to Nick. Audrey Rhimes is the undeterred detective on the crime scene as investigation for the murder still follows. She is an honest, hard-working detective who fights gender and race discrimination on the job, and suffers from her drunk laid-off husband at home, and longs for the children she can never bear. Her integrity and priorities are still strong – she wants to do full justice to her investigation and stay focused to find the answer.
The ending surprised me – I did not see it coming. I would say that Finder manages to end on an up note with bringing the family closer together, despite the terrible loss of their home. Many themes ran through this book: The troubled lives of the very rich and yes, even they have their troubles. The many wonderful things money can buy and yet, the few things only a miracle can patch up. The true irony of life. The most valuable asset in our possessions. I would call this an above average thriller, and recommend it mostly for its writing, despite a reasonably good plot.