Joseph Finder does it again – a corporate thriller sent directly to my house, the Advanced Reader’s Edition of “Power Play“. This is one of the perks of being a fan of Joseph Finder. The book is due out in August 2007 and I have already finished it as of July. The silly race is of course with no one but myself. All the same, it’s exciting to be asked to read an earlier edition of a favorite author. Of all Joseph Finder books from my list, I liked this as a 3rd best, with Paranoia still as my first choice followed by High Crimes. This is another Finder corporate thriller. This genre happens to be his strong suit, and he does a nice job with Power Play and especially the character development.
The protagonist, Jake Landry, is a rising star with a very troubled past, horrible childhood, and a bit of run-in with the law, all of which he has managed to hide from his “ex-girlfriend”, Ali. Jake possesses strong knowledge of engineering, and corporate politics – a combination that the CEO finds remarkable and wants to leverage in the aviation industry world of Hammond Corporation. Finder likes his women CEO personalities, and Cheryl Tobin is another tough female executive, challenged and ridiculed by the usual pressures; she naturally comes out on top of it all because a good Finder story would go no other way. Jake is the youngest executive on Cheryl’s staff, and one whom she trusts most to help her get a grip on the team dynamics and insider information.
One day, Jake finds himself called into an executive retreat with the company’s top management. It is worthy to mention that Ali, the top assistant to our CEO Cheryl, is also coming along for the ride. The retreat is taking place conveniently in a lodge in the middle of nowhere. By the middle of no where, I mean a posh resort isolated from all contact with civilization where the executives are able to set aside their cell phones and pagers (not that they receive any reception anyway), and focus on real issues at hand. Middle of no where as you can imagine will not turn out so smart a choice after all. Whoever thought it was such a good idea for a group of extremely wealthy individuals to gather in a lodge and turn off all outside communication in order to accomplish real work? Ironically, this is not such a far-fetched situation to imagine with the standard posh executive retreats – and while seemingly simple, it is also incredibly stupid to be caught off-guard in the hands of the wrong crowd. I have no choice but to recommend the execs carry their gun to their next posh retreat!
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The lodge is immediately assailed by a group of hunters, who humiliate more than petrify the shocked executives, and carry out an agenda that is very difficult to predict. I must reward Finder here for creating a worthy enigma. It is nearly impossible to guess the intent behind their malicious actions. The set-up does extremely well to glue in the reader to the very end. What is the purpose of these country hunters and why do they have army weapons rather than the usual hunting guns? While everyone is terrified for their own life, Landry remains calm and observant and aware of the evil intent behind the hunters’ invasion. I must admit, I was as lost and terrified as the other executives.
Finder does well with building up Landry’s character, with many flashbacks built in throughout the story to acquaint us with his tough childhood and unfortunate adulthood. It is almost a match for the deeply disturbing situation in which he finds himself at the present time, and perhaps in a strange way, his experience has prepared him as the most likely candidate to rescue them from their impossible situation. All the while, I think it is generous of Finder to give us the sexy, smart, beautiful character of Ali, to expose Landry’s character on even further level.
To surmise, and to keep from giving any spoilers, I will just say this: I had no idea what I bargained for in this book, and it was too late to stop when I realized how disturbing it was getting. Generally, I stay far away from disturbing drama, and do not like to push the limit on the scary content either – this book offered plenty on both fronts in a rather realistic world. Nonetheless, Finder gives us an unpredictable plot with detailed articulation of events, good character development and plenty of suspense. Thank you Joseph as always and do keep writing.