If you were to look up Company Man by Joseph Finder on Goodreads.com, you would not have to scroll far before seeing a review written in all capital letters. “FULL OF IMPLAUSIBILITIES,” this review screams, and although I’ll limit my complaints to lowercase letters–I’d have to agree.
Company Man follows Nick Conover, the CEO of a major corporation, as well as homicide detective Audrey Rhimes. This book is not low on conflict. Nick Conover has 99 problems, among them: a dead wife, a company-wide conspiracy and a stalker who likes to spray-paint messages on and in Nick’s house.
Now, all of that is well and good. Finder does a thorough job of defining characters. He does a thorough job of developing problems. He is a ping-pong master when it comes to tracing conspiracies back to the source. However, none of that matters because this book’s foundation is made out of dominoes. The majority of those intricately designed problems are present and work because Nick Conover got a security system, equipped with cameras, at a specific time. Here’s the thing: it is simply not possible for the reader to accept that it took Nick’s house being broken into five times and his dog being murdered before he finally decided he needed a security system. Gated community or no, any sane person is getting that security system after the first break-in. Come on, Nick, your kids live there!
Company Man had other problems as well; existing separately, they might have been overlooked as simply bad decisions, but since they all happen in the same book, they stand out–like so many sore thumbs. Finder also has a habit of going into extreme detail for things that are not necessarily important. I specifically remember a bit about the “Workplace of the Future.” It went on for a while, and I found it interesting, but after it had finished and moved on, I was left wondering what the point of it had been.
A clue to the prevalence of a lot of superfluous information is found in the four page “Acknowledgement” section at the end of the book. While the majority of fiction writers feel an obligation to thank their editor, publicist, graphic designer, publisher and perhaps their parents, Finder acknowledges the contribution of (approximately) 25 businesses/organizations and 80 individuals. The net result of all of these contributions is Finder winds up with an immense amount of information, most of which is not essential to carry the story; and too much of it finds its way into the novel – which cannot help but distract and/or confuse the reader and slow down the story.
All that being said, Company Man was a good thriller on bad foundation. It had twists that I didn’t see coming (although I probably should have) and characters so thought-out that Finder knew the names of their third grade teachers, their entire work resumes and the brand of toothpaste they used. I wouldn’t discourage you from reading it; just know that you’ll spend the whole book thinking, “Why didn’t Nick get that security system after the first break-in???”