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- Published on Amazon.com
COMPANY MAN by Joseph Finder
March 26, 2005
COMPANY MAN is the story of a CEO (Nick Conover) of a large office furniture manufacturer who finds himself involved in a murder, while at the same time is dealing with the death of his wife and the impact it has on his children.
Nick works for Stratton, a company that makes high-end office furniture, and they have been in business for a few generations. Unfortunately, things have been rocky since Nick took over, and has had to lay off hundreds of employees. It's a typical scenario in the business world, but Stratton is the main employer for this small town of Fenwick, Michigan, where almost everyone knows someone that was employed there or had been laid off. Nick goes from being popular guy to "the slasher".
As the story begins, the reader finds out that Nick's home has been broken into more than once, and although nothing is ever stolen, someone has been writing graffiti on his walls. The police do not see this as a threat, even after they find the family dog in the pool, butchered. Soon after, his friend Eddie, who also happens to be Nick's director of security at Stratton, helps him install a security system as well as try to find out who could possibly be the person doing this to Nick and the family. Eddie suspects an ex-employee by the name of Andrew Stadler who was supposedly schizophrenic and had been part of the layoffs, except he quit before they could actually lay him off.
One night Nick kills Andrew in self-defense. Andrew had shown up in the yard (the brand new security system alerted Nick) and from there, his nightmares begin. Eddie comes to the rescue once again, but he wants to cover up the murder. Nick wants to go the police, saying it was in self-defense, but Eddie says that Nick would definitely go to jail. Nick believes him, since Eddie used to be a cop with the Grand Rapids police, and knows the routine. So, Eddie helps Nick cover up the murder, with Nick not knowing any of the details. Eddie feels that the less Nick knows the better.
In the mean time, there is something going on with the management team at Stratton, and Nick finds that he can't trust anyone. Scott McNally, his CFO, was his most trusted man at one point, but now Nick can't even trust him either. Scott begins to make decisions without informing Nick, obviously going behind Nick's back, travelling overseas without letting Nick know. It is almost obvious that Scott and the top management of Stratton are all hiding something from him. Desperate, Nick enlists Eddie to help get to the bottom of it, and as they find out what is going on, Nick finds himself wanting more than ever to help save the company that seems to be on the brink of bankruptcy.
One added element helps crank up the tension in the story: Nick gets involved with the daughter of Andrew Stadler, and regardless of the advice Eddie gives Nick about staying away from her, Nick feels a connection with her, and cannot stay away. Eddie is worried that Nick's involvement with her may jeopardize things, and lead the police to them.
The two story lines are written in parallel, and as the cops (including Audry Rhimes, an African American female cop that finds all sorts of opposition from her peers) come closer to finding the truth of what happened that night, Nick's problems at work escalate. The ending climax was not what I had expected and it was a shock to find out who really was the one that was breaking into Nick's home.
This is the second book by Joseph Finder that I have read, and while I liked this book, I still find PARANOIA to be my favorite (for sentimental reasons). Both books were hard to put down, however, and I stayed up past my bedtime to finish reading COMPANY MAN. I think some may find that the ending was a bit too sensational, but overall the book was well written and I loved the suspense. Those who enjoyed PARANOIA will definitely love COMPANY MAN. As for myself, I'm looking forward to Finder's next novel (keep cranking them out, Joe!)