on March 24, 2004
Author Joseph Finder has written about espionage and international affairs for the New York Times and other newspapers, and is also a member of the Association of Former Intelligence Officers. So it would stand to reason that he had seen it all in the realm of espionage. Yet, in the acknowledgements at the end of the book, he states that his research on his other novels "has taken me around the world and into places like KGB headquarters in Moscow, but nothing prepared me for how strange and fascinating I'd find the world of the American high-tech corporation." In Paranoia, he combines high-tech business with corporate security and espionage to create an exciting thriller that the reader will not soon forget.
Adam Cassidy is the quintessential slacker who is tired of his job at Wyatt Telecom. He diverts corporate funds to throw a large retirement party for a loading dock employee, and he fully expects to be fired for it. But instead he is threatened with criminal charges if he does not agree to steal highly confidential product plans from Trion, a rival of Wyatt. With the help of the Wyatt's CEO, security chief, and executive coach, he is groomed for an executive job at Trion. He is taught to breach the tightest corporate security and turn over his findings. Thus begins his life as a corporate spy, where the game he is playing becomes more and more treacherous, his loyalties to his friends and employers are stretched to the limit, and he is caught in a web of deceit from which there seems to be no exit.
The characters are well drawn and believable. Finder expertly depicts Adam's struggle with his conscience, his problems with his ailing father and best friend, his worries about being unmasked as a spy, and his fondness for his Trion CEO. This makes him a very sympathetic protagonist. The two corporate presidents are strongly contrasted: the Wyatt CEO is ruthless, aloof, and vain; the Trion CEO is paternal, benevolent, and demands honesty. Also included in the interesting cast of characters are a quirky staff engineer, some power-hungry middle managers, a jealous and competitive coworker, and a shady security chief with a penchant for violence.
The suspense kept me on the edge of my seat, and the final plot twist was a powerhouse. Not only is this a fast-paced thriller, but it provides fascinating facts about espionage and corporate security. Each section defines an espionage term, which is then exemplified in the story line. I was shocked to learn about how lax corporate security can be, permitting access to password-protected PCs and locked offices and file cabinets. Even badge readers and biometric scanners can be circumvented. This is definitely worth reading, but be sure to schedule it for when you have some spare time, because once you start it you will have trouble putting it down.
on February 5, 2004
Be careful what reviews you read on this page, as at least one will ruin the ending for you. It's one of the longer reviews.
This is not only an exciting thriller, but a touching account of a father-son relationship very well expressed. It was a nice contrast to the main page-turning storyline.
I loved this book from the "grabs you" beginning to its thought provoking ending, and have my husband, brother and friends buying their own copies so we can discuss it.
No slow parts, engaging characters, thrilling story. You won't be able to put it down.
on January 24, 2004
I first came upon this author when the movie High Crimes, starring Ashley Judd, was being premiered. As soon as I heard it was an adaptation of a book, I knew I wanted to read the book first before seeing the movie. I ended up loving both the book and the movie and was eager to read something else by this author.
Then, along came Paranoia....Finder's newest release. I was a bit anxious when I started it because I wanted it to be as good as High Crimes. I needn't have worried. Paranoia was terrific but the best discovery of all was the realization that this author was the "real deal." We all have our preferred authors --the ones whose books we buy as soon as they come out. I'm happy to now add Finder to my list.
My favorite kind of book has always been the one where events spiral so out of control that you can't imagine the main character being able to get back on track in one piece. You know the kind of book I'm talking about -- a virtual roller coaster ride. Typical examples would be The Big Picture by Douglas Kennedy, Derailed by James Siegel and A Simple Plan by Scott Smith just to name a few. Paranoia now tops my list as my new favorite heart-stopping thriller. Finder has managed to put the reader right smack in the middle of a power struggle between two invincible high-tech companies with Adam Cassidy as the referee/spy.
Prior to the day when Adam Cassidy's life changed forever, he was a lackadaisical employee of Wyatt Telecom. The CEO of that company soon discovers Adam's involvement in some illegal disbursement of company monies to pay for an employee's retirement party. To compound matters, this party ended up costing the company $78,000.00. Now the CEO has Adam where he wants him and threatens him with prison unless he agrees to plant himself as an employee/spy with Trion Systems, Wyatt's biggest competitor. This is very risky for Adam as it is a no-win situation. If he doesn't do what Wyatt is asking, he'll go to jail. If he's caught leaking secrets by his new employer, Trion Systems, he'll go to jail. Adam accepts the risk just to buy some time never realizing what he's getting himself into.
I can honestly say that my heart was in my throat on many occasions as Adam tries to sneak information out of Trion and into Wyatt's hands. But when Adam starts to feel some loyalty towards his new employer, all hell breaks loose.
I'm not going to tell you anymore for fear of giving anything away. Just trust me when I say that you will love this book. It's a win-win situation for the reader. Joseph Finder has now gotten himself one loyal new fan.
The book opens with a self-confirmed slacker named Adam Cassidy arranging for a loading dock employee to have an amazing retirement party, caviar, beer, top shelf liquor, first rate food, ice sculptures, and more. He was able to swing the party by knowing the expense codes, the catering company for the executives, and making the decision that the line workers could use as good a send off as the executives. For Adam, it was fairly easy to pull off. The next day, well, that is another story. But, he impresses the CEO of Wyatt , Nick Wyatt, with his line of BS, that Nick has a 'special' project for him. Adam is taught industrial espionage and lands a new job with Wyatt's main competitor, Trion Systems. Adam is told, in no uncertain terms, that he is to get a working prototype of Trion's AURORA project, "or else."
Adam moves ahead at Trion, impressing the CEO, Jock Goddard, so much that he becomes Jock's personal assistant. An amazing rise for a 'slacker.' While he is being fed some really good information, good enough to impress the people at Trion with his views of the market, products, and people, Adam surprises us with his own conclusions. Particularly when one of Trion's products has manufacturing issues, Adam has a novel approach to rescuing it.
Another fast paced book by Joseph Finder. I found myself hating my commute, as it was taking away reading time. It is that good. Adam is a guy that has been thrown into a situation that has him wondering who he is, exactly. He has two bosses, leads two lives, while trying to keep his head on straight to deal with his sick father. I was sweating along with Adam. I especially enjoyed the ending, it was exactly right for the character. Another highly recommended read from Finder.
After finishing the book, I actually took the time to read the liner notes. Now I get where Joseph finds his material. This is a guy that knows his stuff, and is able to apply it to the corporate world. Reading his little bio, I have a new appreciation for his work.
Highly recommended (did I mention that?). :-)
on May 28, 2010
The title of this book is Paranoia, but it's not because the main character, Adam, suffers from it. On the contrary, Adam is endlessly trusting. He takes everything at face value, questions nothing, trusts every lucky moment. Too bad the author can't count on his readers doing the same. The reader mistrusts the plot's many too-good-to-be-true moments and feels all the paranoia that Adam doesn't. This makes the "surprise" ending fairly unsurprising and makes other characters' reactions to Adam ("an extremely bright, intuitive young man") pretty hard to swallow.
Equally hard-to-swallow is the author's attempt to make Adam an edgy anti-hero--a corporate slacker who doesn't play by the rules--because the author can't resist making his wish-fulfillment hero wonderful too. After all, Adam is the kind of guy who only cheats his company because he wants to give a working stiff a lavish party, Adam is the kind of guy who won't yell back at his abusive father, no matter what he says, because the father is dying of emphysema, and Adam is the kind of guy that "women do tend to notice."
In addition to the annoying hero, the book bogs down about halfway through when it seem like the same things keep happening over and over. And although I liked some of the characters--Noah Mordden, for instance--too many of them seemed like they came from Central Casting (Nicholas Wyatt, especially). Overall, I think the author had an interesting plot idea--and the details about technology and security seemed plausible enough--but stronger characterization and a more believable plot would have made the book much better.
on March 22, 2005
*Paranoia* is a an intriguing thriller that made me look forward to going to bed to read each night so I could find out what happened next. I guess that's the point of a thriller - but this one is different.
First of all it isn't about spies or killers - it is about people working in cubicles, making PowerPoint presentations, "brainstorming," and figuring out how to sell PDA type devices among other things - and it is extraordinarily interesting.
Secondly the characters seemed real in a way that I did not expect to find in a thriller, especially Adam Cassidy, the main character. I am only an occasional reader in this genre and my impression is that most thrillers are more plot driven (like the curiously popular but abysmal Da Vinci Code) and the characters tend to be stock characters written with perhaps a certain actor in mind. Paranoia's plot moves right along, but the character Adam is expertly and compassionately developed, and I felt empathetic with his plight. His father and his father's caretaker were interesting, as was his good-time buddy Seth ("Dude, it's never too late to have a happy childhood.") Alana, I guess, was a little more prefab than the other characters. For some reason, no fault of the author's, I got it in my head that the character Jock Goddard was a replica of "Mr. Peterman," Elaine's boss from the television show Seinfeld.
Finally the plot resolution was, for me, surprising. Because of the genre I fully expected a formulaic ending along the lines of *The Firm*, or *Wall Street* - but that wasn't the case.
Sidenote: I ended up getting the Wings song *Band on the Run* stuck in my head because of one scene where Adam had that song as an earworm - but I cured that by wearing my iPod as often as possible. That is one insidious earworm - don't let it hhappen to you.
I would recommend this book to anybody looking for an engaging, intelligent thriller.
on February 24, 2005
I'm an avid reader and it's been a long time since I picked up a book that grabbed me on the first page and wouldn't let go until I finished it! I love to play along with these "twisty, turny" type stories to see if I can solve it before the end, however, this one left me with my jaw on the floor. If anyone out there is a fan of the TV series "24" and you sit and watch it saying to yourself... "Oh, no..." or "get out of there NOW!" ...then you're gonna love this. Honestly, I couldn't put it down.
on January 31, 2004
Adam Cassidy is stuck in a major rut with his life...he parties too hard, hates his job and when he tries to do a favor for a friend he ends up charged with a crime. Wyatt Telecom's head of security has given Adam two choices: go to prison or become a spy in the headquarters of their leading competitor, Trion Systems.
Adam makes the only choice he can, become a spy and supply Nicholas Wyatt the information he is looking for. Once Adam agrees to Wyatt's terms he is put through a rigid training program that will teach him how to act, show him what to wear and supply him with the information needed to successfully land the job at Trion.
Within days of being hired at Trion, Adam is butting heads with his supervisor, a cold, calculating battle-ax named Nora. After a couple of run-ins with Nora, Adam gets the news that he is being transferred until a strange twist of fate lands him the job as the assistant to Jock Goddard, the president of Trion Systems.
Adam's new position gives him the opportunity to find the secret information Wyatt is looking, and when he finds top secret documents concerning a project called "Aurora" he knows he has hit pay dirt. With each passing day Adam realizes he is in over his head and the further he becomes involved with "Aurora" he faces unknown dangers in a world where nothing is as it seems and no one can be trusted.
`Paranoia' is a pulse quickening thriller. From page one the reader is held captive by a spellbinding tale of deception, high-tech maneuvers and corporate greed. Great characters, non-stop action and surprising plot twists all blend masterfully in a novel that's a cross between Grisham's `The Firm' and Crichton's `Disclosure.'
Joseph Finder has written several excellent novels, `Paranoia', being his best yet, is destined for a spot on all the bestseller lists. Fans of up-all-night-page-turners should dive into this one as it's one of the best thrillers to come out in a long time.
A MUST read!
on March 14, 2008
This is a great book for anyone who likes a good corporate espionage story, and I highly recommend it. I personally enjoyed the opportunity to read a mystery/thriller which did not involve a lawyer, a police detective, or a secret agent. The adversaries here are corporations, and the players are highly trained and highly paid corporate spies and counter-spies. I'd like to see more like it.
on January 14, 2004
What a thrill this book is. When I received a copy to read, I quickly downed it in one long day of travel, often reading while waiting in lines at airports. The book simply grabs your attention and won't let go. I lent it to a friend who was just as smitten. The pacing is excellent and the suspense and action will have you quickly turning pages.
Our lead character is a slacker and is going nowhere fast until a "too good to be true offer" comes his way. But there is a catch. He quickly learns that all is not what it seems and he is not quite sure who he is working for, and where is loyalties lie. He becomes a pawn in a game of corporate competition and has to make ethical choices that seem to grow by the minute. The ending will surprise you. The book is also timely considering the ethical climate of Corporate America these days and more insight than ever at some of what is going on behind the closed doors of the visible brands we know.
What the book does very well (I will not spoil the plot by explaining it all in detail like some reviews here have done) is get into the psychology and emotions of the lead character as one choice after another guides him down a path he is not sure he wants to be on. This is perhaps the best aspect of the book, other than the pacing of the story. You will come to your own conclusions at the end as to what choice you would make in that situation.
If you are considering buying this book, ignore the critical "editorial" reviews. Are there some issues with the way corporate mechanics are depicted, or are there some shallow characters, and even a few plot holes? Sure. However, this book is a thriller you won't want to put down, and an experience you will want to enjoy again, and that is the point. Highly recommended, and worthy of its hype.