Company Man
Joseph Finder
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Buy *Company Man* online

Company Man
Joseph Finder
St. Martin's Paperbacks
592 pages
March 2006
rated 3 1/2 of 5 possible stars

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Company Man is a mix of family problems, the hazards of being a CEO in a downsizing world and a policewoman who won't give up, no matter what the obstacles to making her case.

The company man in question is the successful CEO of Stratton Corporation, with a beautiful wife and two children, living in a gated estate, at the top of his game. Then his wife is killed in an automobile accident, his company is forced into massive layoffs to balance competition from China-based manufacturing and a stalker keeps breaking into his home, terrifying his children with spray-painted graffiti: "No Hiding Place."

Nick Conover burrows into survival mode, shutting down his emotions, ignoring his teen-aged son's cries for help and pretending life goes on. Meanwhile, Conover's world is rapidly falling apart, his confused sixteen-year old son suspended from school, and there is a plot by his fellow Stratton board members to unseat him and send the company's manufacturing base to China.

After the family dog is eviscerated and left for the children to discover, a badly shaken Nick installs a sophisticated security system. As the alarm sounds, Nick finds himself confronting a prowler at the end of a gun. All at once, Conover is slammed into one crisis after another, not the least of which is the murder of a man named Stadler, possibly the one responsible for vandalizing Conover's home.

The second half of the novel is a race against consequences. Conover has begun an ill-advised relationship with the daughter of the murdered man, who is wonderful with his children and has all the right moves to make Nick feel alive again. Meanwhile, a diligent female detective, with problems of her own, picks up the scent of the murder, and it leads directly Conover. "Nick the Slasher" is in the fight of his life.

The action dovetails in one moment of violent confrontation, and Conover must decide what he really values. Although at least one hundred pages too long, Company Man is ambitious, if sprinkled with stereotypical characters from corporate dollar-chasing flunkies to donut-eating, incompetent police, moody, pot-smoking teenagers and a middle-aged man who takes a giant-sized bite out of Eve's poisoned apple.

While no John Sanford or James Lee Burke, Finder clearly has set his sights on the Grisham/Patterson track, besides which, this author has a killer PR instinct. Like his previous novel, Paranoia, Company Man is the saga of one man against many, but this protagonist is more humanized, both in his role as caring CEO and father of grieving children. Juggling too many plates in the air, Conover predictably stumbles, spending the rest of the novel catching up to some devastating mistakes.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at Luan Gaines, 2005

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