Adam Cassidy, 26, is a smart, bored, low-level employee at Wyatt Telecom. When he decides to throw a retirement party for an assistant foreman using $78,000 of company funds and gets caught, the company gives him a choice. He can either go to jail for embezzlement or become a spy at Wyatt's main competitor, Trion, as it prepares to launch an industry-changing product. Soon Adam finds himself deep inside Trion Systems enjoying all the trimmings: a company car, luxury apartment, and a huge salary. Now he simply has to close the deal by double-crossing his new boss (and friendly father-figure). Wouldn't you know, it's not as easy as he hoped.
St. Martin's Press. 426 pages. $24.95.
"This year's first contender for Page Turner of the Year. ... The lack of unlikely heroics makes the book all the more chilling and underscores Finder's message: 'This could happen to you.' The corporate thriller just got an upgrade." Edward Nawotka
"What sets Paranoia apart from others of its genre is not only Finder's fun, chatty prose, but also his command of the setting. ... [T]he author knows his spy stuff, and has researched well the ins and outs of post-Enron corporate security." Clea Simon
"Paranoia is a lot of flash and dazzle, but Finder also has a good ear for dialogue. The corporate and technical lingo leaps off the page without being obtrusive and off-putting." Tom Walker
"So Paranoia cannot be read as an exercise in style. But as a savvy genre piece with built-in momentum, it works just fine." Janet Maslin
"[Paranoia] strikes me as another example of the dumbed-down, manipulative junk that publishers think they can force-feed to the mass audience. ... The publisher claims that with this novel Finder has 're-imagined the contemporary thriller.' Personally I say it's dog food and to hell with it." Patrick Anderson
Paranoia, packed with twists, turns, status details, and high-tech gobbledygook, moves with a John Grisham-like momentum. Finder's fifth novel has already been optioned for film, for good reason. Many reviewers were won over by the narrator's likeable voice, and empathized with his sweat-inducing ethical dilemmas. Yes, the novel is a bit cliched, the characters are cardboard, and much of the action takes place behind a computer desk. But overall, it's an entertaining page-turner. Unless you're the Washington Post, which points to Paranoia as a sign of the coming publishing apocalypse in which only second-rate, banal thrillers make it to bookstore shelves. Let's hope it hasn't gone that far yet.