on April 7, 2005
Nick Conover has more than his share of troubles. As the CEO of Stratton Corporation, a major manufacturer of office furniture and cubicles, he was forced by his parent company to lay off five thousand workers. Now he is an outcast in his own hometown, since almost every resident was affected in some way by the layoffs. A disgruntled former employee has been breaking into his home and leaving threatening messages. The members of the board of his corporation appear to be acting behind his back and trying to force him out. He is a recent widower with a kitchen in the midst of a major remodeling and a teenage son who is having problems at home and in school. Sound bad? Well that's just the beginning. When he confronts the intruder who has been threatening him, things go very wrong, and soon he finds himself the target of a police investigation. As his problems mount, so does the tension. Nick has nowhere to hide.
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!
I'm a fan of Joseph Finder, but don't purchase this book if you've already read COMPANY MAN.
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.
COMPANY MAN by Joseph Finder
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!)
on May 22, 2005
Joseph Finder has combined his skill of writing detail about corporate dealings, boardroom meetings and business with a fast-paced, easy-read thriller.
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.
Based on the recommendation of a few fellow Amazon reviewers, I decided to pick up a copy of Company Man by Joseph Finder for some recreational reading. I'll be going back out to pick up some of his earlier works... This was a good read.
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... :-)
on March 1, 2016
The Company Man was another thriller by Joseph Finder, my new guilty pleasure author. His novels are pure entertainment! The premise of this was that Nick was a CEO of a large company with prominent past, who was hated by the thousands of people in his small town after the company laid them off. Nick was being threatened at his home, but the police weren't much help since they too disliked Nick. When Nick finally took matters into his own hands, he ended up in a situation that threatened to destroy his entire life. While Nick tried to keep secrets from the police and cover up a crime, he simultaneously discovered that several high level employees were attempting to sabotage the company.
That story line was a little lengthy for the quick conclusion it received. Because I liked Nick from the beginning, I wanted him to get away with, well, just about anything. I think that is a skill of a good author: the ability to create a character that the reader roots for regardless of whether the character's actions are in line with society's morals and our legal system. That twist made the book fun to read.
Still other subplots went on and on even though I felt they were unnecessary to the overall plot. Audrey, the detective who was out to get Nick, led this horrible life, but the plot just went nowhere. I felt like her story took too much time and should have been cut significantly. Overall, the pacing was fantastic! This was a thriller in every sense of the word. There was lots of suspense, red herrings, and mysterious actions to keep me wondering what was going to happen. There were some huge twists in the end that made this read well worth it!
These books are easy reads and highly enjoyable! Such a great weekend read!
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on September 2, 2012
I read Paranoia (also by Joseph Finder) and it was an amazing read cover to cover. I decided to read another Finder book and found this one with an average four star review. I could barely get through the book. Boring story with no surprise ending. I figured the bad guy out at the beginning and waded through the book hoping to be wrong with some amazing plot twist. There were none. I was also really tired of all the bad cliches and stereotypes surrounding the African American detective. My opinion - don't waste your money!! The Harry Bosche series is terrific as is the Mickey Haller series (different author) and definitely read Paranoia by Feller, just not THIS book.
on May 19, 2014
I just read this in one sitting, which will tell you how hard it was to put down. Nick Conover is the CEO of a Michigan furniture manufacturer going through painful layoffs. His wife had been killed in a wreck a year earlier. He is struggling to be a single parent, and the investment firm that owns the company is up to some shady dealings. In the middle of this Nick has to deal with the consequences of a vandal who has defaced their home and killed their dog. There are good people at the center of this story. Not only Nick, but also the police detective who gets involved in the criminal investigation. This was a great read. Joseph Finder writes compelling thrillers set in the corporate world.
The "hero" to use the author's term is a sleazy, morally empty, professionally incompetent narcissist beginning to end. He is placed in and kept in his CEO position because he was incompetent; wouldn't be a threat to either his old boss' reputation or the new owners. Of course, as a narcissist, he's completely unaware. The characters and settings are shallow and trite, including the business environment. The supporting character, a black female police officer is justification for out of place and shallow religious commentary. By the end, the hero is responsible for three unnecessary deaths and hasn't learned anything new, including anything about his children. Dark and depressing. Tough to finish; wouldn't have if I'd had something else with me. The author can write, but my guess is the mid-western business world isn't something he's familiar with so this was an awkward stretch.
You've got to love Joseph Finder's style: straightforward, unadorned, and unpretentious. No heavy psychodrama, moral overtones, or political axes to grind. Finder is a storyteller, pure and simple, and he delivers his craft in a staccato of rapid-fire chapters that kept me reading well past bedtime. "Company Man" is the story of Nick Conover, the beleaguered CEO of The Stratton Corporation, a rust belt office furniture manufacturer trying to survive a tidal wave of cheap labor outsourced to China. Fenwick is a one company town, and when Conover is forced to layoff half the company, escalating threats from apparent former employees force the single dad Conover to take protecting his family into his own hands. What follows is a multifaceted thriller as the reader begins to wonder just how many more crises will our hero Nick be forced to endure as his once stable life spins out of control, finding that those he's trusted may not be what they seem. A bit of Grisham's "The Firm", some of Tom Wolfe's "Bonfire of the Vanities", and first time author James Siegel's "Derailed" all come to mind while blazing through the pages of this compelling yarn. Like "Paranoia" before it, "Company Man" is top-notch popular fiction, and Joseph Finder is a rising talent well worth checking out.