I picked this book up a couple years ago at Hooked on Books in Springfield for 33 cents. It’s taken me until this month to get to it simply because the title was so, well, bland.
The book centers on Ned Allen, a regional sales director for a computer magazine who finds out he’s in a jam. Seems a major client has decided to pull a promised insert at the time the magazine is being acquired by a German publishing company. The Germans are going to replace the magazine’s publisher with the regional sales director, effectively putting him in the position of climbing over his mentor to the big time. However, things go awry very quickly when Ned twists an arm to save his job, but effectively loses it and finds he’s made enemies that will keep him from working in his field and maybe even New York again.
The book sort of struck me as a fun mash-up between And Then We Came To The End and Lloyd, What Happened? for their high-flying corporate business ways and Vienna Days for its compelling central character who, through weakness, tends to make poor decisions and is perplexed a bit by the consequences.
However, about 2/3 of the way into the book, one screw too many turned, I thought, and then suddenly the book departed into a crime-suspense novel with a murder, blackmail, and a resolution out of a Spenser novel, where Ned Allen talks down the big bad level boss and makes a free-wheeling deal to extricate himself and others from danger while giving a bad man his comeuppance. The character’s name could even have been Tony Marcus, for crying out loud, or that guy in LA.
The book, then, really seems like two different books stitched together a bit unsuccessfully. A pity, really. I still rather enjoyed it, but my praise is not unqualified.
I’ll probably keep my eyes out for another Douglas Kennedy book, though. What the heck, I’ve given David Morrell (of First Blood infamy) another shot.