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Paranoia Hardcover – January 14, 2004
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From Publishers Weekly
Is it too early to declare Finder's fifth novel (after High Crimes) the most entertaining thriller of 2004? Probably, but it will be a surprise if another suspenser proves as much sheer fun as Finder's robust tale of corporate espionage. Narrator Adam Cassidy's trip to hell begins when he charges to the company an unauthorized, very expensive party for a retiring blue-collar laborer at their place of work, Wyatt Telecom. Caught, low-level staffer Adam is given an offer he can't refuse by monstrously slick and wealthy CEO Nick Wyatt: penetrate rival high-tech giant Trion Systems and get the goods on Trion's killer new products, or face a battery of felony charges. Adam accepts the deal, and days later he's at Trion, along with false credentials that persuade Trion that he was a key player at Wyatt Telecom, rather than a cube-squatting shlub. Finder presents Adam's thrust into Trion as the scary, grand adventure of a stranger in a strange land, as Adam must contend with a new corporate culture and a host of envious enemies, particularly once he's tapped to be Trion founder Jock Goddard's personal assistant. As Adam comes to admire, even to love, Jock, the demands by Wyatt for ever better intel grate all the more. But if Adam refuses, prison awaits, and anyway he loves his big new salary and perks, not to mention his new, lovely Trion bedmate. Adam's love/hate relationship with his bitter, dying dad and his fragmenting friendship with a pal he's left behind add texture to the relentless suspense, punctuated by tense cloak-and-dagger scenes as Adam steals secrets from his new bosses. A first-rate surprise ending packs a wallop. This novel is the real deal: a thriller that actually will keep readers up way past their bedtimes.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
From The New Yorker
In another age, a genre thriller fairly required the brandishing of a weapon and blood smeared on the floor. Finder's latest is the archetype of the thriller in its contemporary form: e-mail is the means of communication and threat, industrial espionage among nasdaq competitors the field of violence. The novel's great strength is its fetishistic attention to the idioms and buzzwords of the tech business and the up-to-the-second catalogue of perfidy's rewards: the particular Bordeaux or the particular Porsche that tickles the impulses of the New Greedy. For a while, Finder's plot seems less vivid than the status details he gives such attention to, but late in the book we discover how completely we have been fooled, and with real escapist pleasure.
Copyright © 2005 The New Yorker
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"Nick Wyatt slept three hours a nigh, seemed to eat nothing but PowerBars for breakfast and lunch, was a nuclear reactor of nervous energy, perspired heavily. People called him 'The Exterminator.'"
"'Of course I'm paranoid,' Nick says. 'I want everyone who works for me to be paranoid. Success demands paranoia.'"
Adam's assignment is to secure a job at Trion Systems, Wyatt's biggest competitor. There, after intensive training in industrial espionage by Wyatt's chief of security, Adam is to ferret out information about a huge top-secret project at Trion that is rumored to be a game-changer. Adam is a slacker and has never applied himself, but it quickly becomes clear that he is highly intelligent, socially adept, and a slick talker. It doesn't take long for him to get himself hired, luck into a relationship with a gorgeous coworker, and eventually gain the attention of Trion's celebrated founder, Jock Goddard. The contrast between Goddard and Wyatt couldn't be greater. Complications quickly ensue.
Paranoia is fast-paced and devilishly clever. Even if, like me, you get an inkling of what's going on as Adam's spying progresses, you're unlikely to be prepared for the explosive ending.
Joseph Finder has been writing thrillers since 1983. Many of his books concern industrial espionage. Paranoia, which is set within the tech industry, displays considerable knowledge of technology and of the industry.
The strongest aspect of this story was the plot itself; however, the ending was disappointing and just did not fit the rest of the book and the main character's personality. Notwithstanding the last few pages, overall I liked Paranoia and will definitely read more books by this author.
Paranoia takes place in modern day New York. Adam Cassidy, a bright, yet lazy and immature employee of ruthless Nicholas Wyatt's Corporation, Wyatt Telecom uses his computer skills to fund an executive type party for a retiring dock worker. After being caught he is given the choice of facing financial ruin and a certain jail sentence or become a planted corporate spy in Jock Goddard's rival Corporation, Trion. Choosing the later, after developing a close personal relationship with Jock and falling in love with a high level employee in a top secret project in Trion, Cassidy fights the inter turmoil he is subjected to.
This exciting 424-page thriller is a compelling, quick and haunting read. Though I was disappointed with the ending, I am hoping there is a sequel.
When his employers opt not to arrest him for corporate fraud, among other things, Adam is relieved, but only temporarily. Instead, they want to plant him as a spy in the upper echelon of their largest competitor, Trion Systems. Not believing in his own talents, Adam at first balks at the idea-but he's left little choice. Do it, or go to prison for the rest of his life.
All is not as it seems at Trion. Adam finds that with the insider information he's fed by Wyatt, he's able to move smoothly up the corporate ladder, feeling a bit like James Bond. He makes nearly three times as much money, is given a Porsche and a highly desirable condo in the poshest high-rise in the city, Adam begins to enjoy his double life. That is until he begins to suspect that something isn't right. Those he trusts show signs of being untrustworthy, and soon he feels trapped between two evils: himself, and Wyatt.
Publisher's Weekly has billed this as "the first blockbuster of 2004," and Finder very well may live up to that hype. With a tight storyline, incredible dramatic tension, well-developed characters, and more twists than a Chinese knot factory, "Paranoia" has already been added to my top ten all-time favorite reads, and should be on yours, as well! Purchase two copies of this thriller, as you'll want one for home and one to carry with you wherever else you go.