POWER PLAY - Joseph Finder
POWER PLAY is the latest in a string of stand-alone corporate thrillers by this author. It explores the idea of a corporate hostage taking exercise - when senior managers of the Hammond Aerospace corporation are held at a remote retreat where they have headed for an annual meeting.
In this group the obvious ring-ins are Jake Landry - more of a technical assistant to a boss who is unable to attend the retreat - and his old girlfriend Ali Hillman. She was in HR, but has now been moved across to work with the new company CEO. There's tension within the Hammond group before they even get to the retreat - after the death of their long-time CEO a female executive has been appointed to that role and many of the hard headed old men in the group are not happy about her or her approach. There is a big a marketing opportunity for the company when a competitors product fails spectacularly in front of an airshow full of witnesses. The group are already snipping and fighting amongst themselves, a situation that is exacerbated, rather than improved when heavily armed men - originally thought to be opportunistic local hunters, take the entire group and the staff of the retreat hostage.
POWER PLAY sets a cracking pace once the hostage taking gets underway - the lead up to that point fills in some details of the tensions between the characters, the background between Jake and Ali and a lot about Jake himself. This reader is still somewhat confused about why Jake's background mattered or what it necessarily contributed to him, but then by the end of the book he'd taken on somewhat more of a confusing persona so it might not matter to other readers so much. Mind you, the rest of the character's were less studies and more categories, for want of a better way of putting that. The new CEO, as a female is being strongly resisted by the older men in the group. She's sending out memos that annoy everybody before they go, she's had her powers of hiring and firing curtailed because of the tensions between her and senior executives and the retreat itself is unpopular because of the timing. All of this starts to make a bit more sense in the aftermath of the hostage taking. I'm not too sure what else she brings to the story other than providing one of the two possibly more vulnerable victims in the group. The harder headed, louder men in the group - the ones that were against the appointment of this woman the most vocally, form part of a series of targets for the hostage takers and there is a bit of rather extreme violence committed in the early stages of events. Conveniently most of the extreme threat - particularly to Ali, to whom Jake is still very much attracted; doesn't occur until Jake is armed, dangerous and free to take on the hostage takers - one by one.
POWER PLAY is definitely a thriller that takes advantage of pace, there's quite a few twists and turns in the plot - a lot of them obviously on the way, but they loomed up really quickly and the book just continued to charge along. All in all the pace was good; the characterisations less convincing; and the plot had it's definite high points but some concomitant low points. It's interesting that the marketing information that came with the book says that kidnappings and abductions of American business executives has increased dramatically in recent years. Big Business fans of POWER PLAY might be looking towards their lower ranks to check who they should take with them on any risky annual retreats.
Jake Landry keeps himself to himself - with a past like his you need to.
A junior executive at the Hammond Aerospace corporation, Jake is a modest quiet guy. So when he's ordered to fill in for his boss at the annual company retreat he seems out of his element, surrounded by the arrogant men who run the company. The only person he knows is the CEO's special assistant - his old girlfriend, Ali Hillman.
Then a group of local hunters crash the opening night festivities and take them hostage. Cut off from the rest of the world, the executives are at the mercy of these armed hunters, who plan to steal a vast fortune from the billion-dollar corporation. But the hostage-takers aren't who they appear to be. And neither is Jake Landry...