The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

January 4, 2008

Book review: Finder's 'Power Play' is a fast-paced thriller

‘Power Play’

By Joseph Finder (compact disc audiobook)

The setting for Joseph Finder’s latest corporate thriller is a very remote Canadian fishing lodge decked out with all the fine amenities, with the exception of cell phones or BlackBerry devices.

Cheryl Tobin, CEO of Hammond Aerospace, and the company’s top brass gather there for a company retreat for “team-building” exercises. Cheryl was named CEO when the former CEO dropped dead of a heart attack. Needless to say, Hammond’s other executives are deeply resentful of Cheryl’s appointment.

A few days before the retreat, a competitor’s newly designed plane crashes at a Paris air show, resulting in millions of dollars in contracts for Hammond’s new jet. Vice-president Michael Zorn sends his assistant, Jake Landry, to the retreat in his place. Jake feels more than a little out of place among the executives sporting Rolex watches and bragging about their wealth. Complicating matters further, his ex-girlfriend, Ali Hillman, who is the CEO’s assistant, is also on the trip.

As the company leaders sit down to dinner on the first night, a group of hunters armed with military weapons take over the compound. It turns out that their plan is to hold Hammond’s finest for a huge ransom. But there are questions — how did they know that Hammond’s top brass would be gathered at this remote location? Did someone inside the organization provide this information and if so, what is the motive?

The author alludes to Jake Landry’s dark background in flashbacks throughout the novel. Jake is the only one who has the skills that it takes to outwit the hunters and keep everyone from getting killed.

“Power Play,” a suspenseful story with a strong plot, memorable characters and fast-paced action, is definitely an edge-of-your seat thriller. Dennis Boutsikaris does an excellent job as narrator for this audiobook.

‘Murder Suicide’

By Keith Ablow (compact disc audiobook)

Frank Clevenger, a forensic psychiatrist who is a consultant to the Boston Police Department, is asked by the police to determine whether a famous inventor has committed suicide or if he was murdered.

The victim, Dr. John Snow, was to undergo experimental surgery only an hour before he was found in an alley close to the hospital where the surgery was to be performed. Snow’s decision to undergo the brain surgery would radically change his life forever. Complications from this groundbreaking brain surgery included possible blindness, deafness, death and most certainly the inability to remember any of the people close to him. His neurosurgeon, Dr. Jet Heller, was eager to make a name for himself by performing this revolutionary new surgery.

Snow had been a brilliant aerospace engineering inventor who suffered from a rare form of epilepsy from the age of 10. His grand mal seizures became more intense as he focused on his inventions. Despite this handicap, Snow’s professional career had been amazingly successful. Snow’s latest endeavor involved a secret military invention. Snow had wealth, family, and beautiful mistress — everything a man could desire, so was this a murder or a suicide?

When another body is found that is related to Snow, Clevenger suddenly has two deaths to investigate and also wonders if this second death was a murder or a suicide. If Snow was murdered, everyone in his small circle, including his family members, becomes a suspect. Clevenger works hard to get inside the heads of the people he interviews.

“Murder Suicide” is a complex novel of psychological suspense. I enjoyed the characterization and the author’s insights as to why people behave the way they do. In addition to writing, Ablow is a forensic psychiatrist who has testified as an expert in some of the nation’s most highly publicized trials.

Both novels are also available in the regular print edition at the Joplin Public Library.

Phyllis Seesengood is the technical services librarian at Joplin Public Library.