Joseph Finder has written 16 novels since 1991. Like several of his other books, Killer Instinct is a tale of industrial espionage. But this is espionage with a twist—not one company (or one country) spying on a competing business but espionage within a single company, for the most part. It’s a clever story, even if one of the two central characters is a little hard to believe. And Finder brings to the book his characteristic skill in building heart-pounding suspense.
The protagonist, the novel’s narrator, is Jason Steadman, a 30-year-old sales executive in the East Coast headquarters of a huge Japanese consumer electronics company. Jason wants nothing more than to move a step up in the corporate hierarchy. But his chances appear slim, since he’s been losing what appeared to be slam-dunk sales. Enter Kurt Semko. Kurt drives the tow-truck that gives Jason a ride home after he had run his Acura into a ditch.
Killer Instinct by Joseph Finder (2006) @@@@ (4 out of 5)
A former Special Forces soldier, Kurt rides a Harley—and he looks the part. He is also a baseball pitcher who was once called up by the Detroit Tigers (though he washed out quickly due to an injury). Jason’s softball team at the company has been on a losing streak for years, in part because they lack a good pitcher. So Jason eases Kurt into the position as a ringer. The team immediately begins winning. Now, the two men strike up a friendship, and Jason engineers a job for Kurt in corporate security at his company.
Suddenly, Jason’s luck turns around. Sales he thought he’d lost come through anyway. His competitors for that job he wants start losing big sales. Soon, Jason has moved up in the rankings. It appears as though he’ll get the big job he craves. But he grows increasingly suspicious that Kurt has used his position in corporate security to gain advantage for Jason.
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