three-and-half-stars
Bookmarks Issue: 
31-Nov-Dec-2007
user_rating: 
0

A-Power PlayAs a last-minute replacement for his boss, Jake Landry, a junior executive at Hammond Aerospace, is sent along with the company’s senior executives to a team-building retreat at a Canadian fishing lodge. Jealousy and intrigue, as well as the new CEO’s secret investigation of malfeasance by one of her underlings, undermine the collegial atmosphere. Jake’s blue-collar roots and rough childhood, including a stint in juvenile detention, set him apart from the others, but his toughness and practical skills prove helpful when gunmen take over the lodge. An ex-girlfriend—assistant to the new CEO—provides a romantic element, and flashbacks reveal Jake’s dark secrets as the plot hurtles forward.
St. Martin’s Press. 384 pages. $24.95. ISBN: 0312347480

Boston Globe 4 of 5 Stars
"Power Play is a delicious, perfectly prepared mixture of the genre’s familiar ingredients. … [It] is no less a fast-paced fun ride because of its predictability." Chuck Leddy

New York Times 4 of 5 Stars
"Power Play starts cleverly and later devolves into more conventional suspense tactics. But its premise is enough to send chills through corporate boardrooms, and through civilian readers too." Janet Maslin

South FL Sun-Sentinel 4 of 5 Stars
"Except for a few lapses in melodrama, for the most part Finder knows how to fashion a superior thriller that shows corporate politics at its [worst]. Power Play’s credible story soars." Oline H. Cogdill

Chicago Sun Times 3.5 of 5 Stars
"[A]nother white-knuckle tale of suspense. … If the plot is occasionally implausible, or the descriptions are a little thin, none of that is likely to matter to readers racing through the story at lightning speed." David J. Montgomery

NY Times Book Review 3.5 of 5 Stars
"Power Play is absorbing yet unaffecting. Although the story is slow to take off, once the seaplanes land in front of the lodge the pace gallops relentlessly. None of the characters have very much depth, partly because the dashing lead is sure to prevail." Julia Scheeres

Washington Post 3 of 5 Stars
"[T]he human (as opposed to technical) details are meager and repetitious. The interchangeable executives come in only two varieties, corrupt and cowardly. … It’s increasingly easy to look past these faults, though, as pace and plot take over." Rodney Welch

Critical Summary

Fans agree that Joseph Finder (Company Man, 2005; Killer Instinct, 3.5 of 5 Stars Sept/Oct 2006) has perfected the corporate thriller, favoring the rocket engine of plot over the quiet architecture of character. His eighth novel, Power Play, races along by omitting the texture and depth that might slow the pace; only the protagonist, Jake Landry, is fleshed out. Critics acknowledge this flaw but forgive the author as they’re dragged along by the fast-paced action. The New York Times suggests that Finder’s novels "could appeal to a broader audience than the one for which they aim." Members of that broader audience might notice the flat characters and occasional clichés, but the suspense and tension will keep them turning the pages.