Company Man Mass Market Paperback – Mar 7 2006
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From Publishers Weekly
Though Finder has written several novels—including one made into the film High Crimes—he hit bestseller lists in a big way only with last year's terrific Paranoia, so this follow-up can be considered a test of his consistency, critically and commercially. While it doesn't dazzle as Paranoia did, this is a solid, engrossing thriller that takes a few risks. Finder's primary risk is a protagonist who, while basically decent, is no paragon. Nick Conover, the youngish CEO of the Stratton Corporation, in Fenwick, Mich., has fired half of the high-end office furniture company's 10,000 employees at the bidding of new ownership in Boston. As a result, much of Fenwick hates Nick, including the person who has been breaking into his mansion and scribbling "No Hiding Place" on the walls, and who then kills the Conover family dog—presumably Andrew Stadler, a fired employee and erstwhile mental patient. When Stadler accosts Nick one night, Nick, panicking, shoots him dead, and then, under the influence of his shady corporate security director, covers up the crime. The two cops assigned to the murder prove dogged, sending Nick into a generally beleaguered state that's slightly alleviated by his new romance with, of all people, the daughter of the murdered man, but exacerbated considerably by his discovery that his Boston masters intend to sell Stratton to Chinese government interests. A thriller like this rides on its characters, and Finder creates full-blooded ones here. As in Paranoia, his understanding of byzantine corporate politics is spot on, and the novel's pacing is strong, with steady suspense. Credibility wavers as Finder heaps Job-like trials upon Nick and then ends the book on an optimistic note, but there are few thriller fans who won't stay up to finish this assured tale.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Finder follows his latest corporate espionage best-seller, Paranoia (2003), with a thriller that, while still set in the business world, is distinctly smaller in scale. The novel's tension centers on the hero's ethical conflict between saving his small company and laying off workers he's known since he was a kid. Nick Conover has risen from working-class origins to the position of CEO of a metal-bending company in a Grand Rapids-like town in Michigan. He has also fallen from the status of well-liked employer to that of despised boss, thanks to layoffs and outsourcing. As the book opens, Conover is dealing with personal as well as business crisis: he's a recent widower, with a preteen daughter and a teenage son, both with a palimpsest of problems; meanwhile, his house is regularly broken into and spray-painted with the words "No Hiding Place." His life keeps sinking: a deranged man breaks into the house, Conover kills him, and his longtime pal talks him into burying the body. More sickeningly suspenseful tail-diving follows, as police work demonically to tie Conover to the homicide. Finder overdoes it a bit with detail--like many hyper-realists, he has a tendency to count the knives and forks--but even so, he's written a frightfully good suspense thriller. Connie Fletcher
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Finder has continued in the tradition of his last novel "Paranoia" with another fast-paced and suspenseful story. This time, however, it's a combination of corporate thriller and murder mystery. Instead of examining the world of high tech, it explores a manufacturer of more down-to-earth products like desk chairs. There are interesting details about the design and manufacture of office equipment, and it's obvious that Finder did his homework on the topic.
Anyone who works in the corporate world or is close to someone who does will find that the ripple effects of Stratton's mammoth layoffs ring all too true. This makes Nick's "company man" portrayal a bit out of the ordinary, since he is a high level executive with a conscience about the corporate buyouts, force reductions, and labor outsourcing that have become an integral part of today's business practices. He even insists that top management work in a cubicle environment like the other workers instead of in posh corner offices. Besides Nick, there are many other well fleshed-out characters. One of them is police detective Audrey Rhimes, who struggles with racial and gender discrimination on the job and who must keep an open mind when investigating Nick even though Stratton laid off her husband. If you enjoyed "Paranoia" you will love "Company Man." If you haven't read "Paranoia" yet, then hurry up and read both of them!
NO HIDING PLACE is simply COMPANY MAN with a different title. It's not unusual for British publishers of an American author to use a different title than the one used in the US.
If you haven't read this book, I heartily recommend it. I loved this thriller, and I think it's probably Finder's best recent effort. It has the strongest character development and the most realistic plot of all his corporate thrillers.
If you like Harlan Coben, you should give Finder a try. I think Finder writes in a similar style, and is probably a little bit more original with his plotlines.
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!)
This book has several tangents that are interesting and work as threads that eventually weave together to present a great Finder tapestry. He delves into the cutthroat underworld of high corporate business and deceiptfulness of the protagonist's friends at work. Finder also gets into family, the loss of a loved one and how it affects others, psychology, abandonment, good versus evil (in both Nick Conover and the detective).
By now, you've read the plot line. I won't go into that. Instead, I am more pleased with Finder's writing. The book is large.. some 500+ pages, but it reads like butter once you get into it. Some reviewer here said Finder was the "Grisham of the boardroom." Don't do that to Mr. Finder. Grisham writes in passive voice and trite plots. Company Man is a three-dimensional story that is enjoyable to read and it makes you think. It moved me enough to finish the book and then immediately come here to crow about it.
Nick Conover is the CEO of a small town company that's a big name in the office furniture industry. He was well liked before having to lay off 5000 people based on pressure from the owners. Now he's "Nick The Slasher" and everyone in town pretty much hates him. To complicate issues, his wife was killed in an auto accident, and he's left to raise his two kids who are having drastically different reactions to her death. The troubles in Nick's life start when someone continually breaks into his gated community home and spraypaints graffiti on the walls. It escalates when someone kills the family pet. The cops aren't doing much to help due to Nick's standing in the town. It all comes to a head when he has to defend his property and family with a gun against the person who is a likely suspect in all the other break-ins. But the shooting isn't one that can be legally justified, and he makes the mistake of working with his corporate security director to cover it up. Tension mounts as the cops start connecting threads that lead back to him, and his budding romance with the daughter of the victim is making things complicated. His company is also crumbling as it looks like he's being left out of the loop to sell the company to a Chinese firm. Who are the good guys, who are the bad guys, and who can be trusted?
As I said in the opening, this was a good read. Even though Nick is a sympathetic character who hated the layoffs, you understand why the town hates him. The detectives working the case are a mismatched pair as opposite as they can be, but perseverance and justice prevail in order to dig out the truth of the matter. There are also some pretty nice twists thrown in along the way, and I personally found it hard to figure out how exactly the story was going to turn out. Pacing was good, and it was refreshing to not see a religious main character portrayed as a fanatic or deranged psycho.
I'll be putting Finder on my list of "must read" authors based on this book, and now I have to fill up my library hold list with his earlier writings. I love finding a good new author... :-)