NO WAY BACK - Matthew Klein

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No Way Back
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Book Synopsis

Jimmy Thane knows all about crossroads. Every time he's been faced with one he's taken the wrong path. At the peak of his career, he chose alcohol. When his job became shaky, he turned to drugs. And when his wife lost faith in him, Jimmy went looking for other women. Now Jimmy's clean and he's at a new crossroads. He has one last chance to save both his career and his marriage -he has seven weeks to turn round a failing company. In return, Jimmy lands the job of CEO and he and his wife get to start over. This time he knows which path to take.

Except, from the moment he enters the building, he senses there's something very wrong -the place is too quiet, too empty. When the police come calling about the disappearance of the former CEO, Jimmy begins to wonder what he's got himself into. Then he discovers surveillance equipment in his neighbour's house, looking straight into his front room. And he begins to notice that his wife isn't just tired, she's terrified and trying to hide it.

Nothing is as it seems. Jimmy no longer feels like he's living the dream -instead he's plunged into the worst kind of nightmare there is. And when he finally gets to the truth, it's more shocking and terrifying than you could ever imagine.

Book Review

"The perfect thriller for everyone who has ever worked in a corporate environment" may not exactly sound like much of a recommendation, and early on in NO WAY BACK, thriller fans could be excused for wondering what on earth they are doing in a story that seems obsessed with the mechanics and machinations of high-tech company restarts. Stick with it. All is not as it seems.

It goes without saying that Jimmy Thane has had a rather chequered background, and initially it seems like he's struck it lucky with the chance to steer a money sink company in the high-technology world out of the doldrums. The job's been given to him by an old friend, a venture capitalist with a lot of money at risk in this company. On the personal side, it's quickly obvious that his past has had a very direct impact on his relationship with his wife, which is fraught. And whilst things at work rapidly become quite complicated, somehow what's going on at home seems oddly passive yet tense at the same time.

With a story like this it's almost impossible to explain some things without getting into massive spoilers, so proceeding with caution, early on you may be wondering what on earth this is all about. Apart, that is from some very telling and quite funny observations about the various personality types that do pop-up in high tech companies with sales and marketing arms. But really there's doesn't seem to be a lot all that threatening or worrying, unless it was your money going down the company drain. There's also some rather obvious repetition which seemed a little overt and off-putting. It does seem to take quite a while for anything particularly "thrilling" to happen although all the time, there's something just not quite right about Thane, his wife, their relationship and the people around them. A lot of that, on the face of it, could be explained by his past, and yet, there's something else. Once the story gets into the revelation phase, lots of things start to fall into place, and a lot of things fall somewhere slightly different.

In many thrillers it's rather easy to see where the story is heading. The good guys struggle, the bad guys get it in the neck, world order is restored and everybody goes home for tea. Nothing is quite that straightforward in NO WAY BACK and it has to be said, regardless of how much you think nothing's happening, or that you know what's happening or where all this is going, stick with it. There's more twists and turns in this tail than your average ... twisty-turny thing.

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