THE JOB by Douglas Kennedy


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An up-and-coming ad exec tossed out on his ear finds a new job that’s a bargain with the Devil, in a glossy, fast-moving, by-the-numbers thriller from Douglas (The Big Picture, 1997). “Results mean everything,” says Ned Allen. Results have boosted him up the ladder to regional sales manager for CompuWorld’s ad pages, and results have won him a nice SoHo apartment, a well-stocked wardrobe, a tennis club membership, and his knockout wife Lizzie, for whom results also mean everything. So it doesn’t take a CompuWorld subscriber to see that when Ned’s team stops producing--especially now that the magazine’s publisher has been sold to a no-nonsense German media conglomerate--the results will be measured in sweat, Valium, slugs of red wine, and alienation of affection. Kennedy knows we know all this, but his hero’s engagingly motormouth narration, coupled with the author’s knack for magnifying his audience’s pandemic low-level anxieties into full-blown paranoia, makes the first half of this cautionary tale--in which a guy with everything going for him loses it all, one excruciating step at a time--intoxicatingly readable, as Ned struggles with the unsavory moral compromises he’ll have to make to keep his job, finally steels himself to make them, then gets tossed out anyway. But all Ned’s cruelly well-drawn jitters, and every detail of his yuppie crucifixion, are only a prelude to his getting sucked into a new job redolent of sulphur and brimstone--and here, with the pulpy criminal plot loosed from every semblance of reality, Ned’s ordeal (cold-calling, bootlicking, money-laundering, serious criminal conspiracy) becomes, if not more predictable, less compellingly so, since you know what he’s going through, not because his fears are just like yours, but because you’ve already read this story so many times. Even so, Kennedy dishes up this familiar fare with enough pizzazz to keep you reading long after you’ve worked out every single twist two steps ahead of the hapless hero. ($500,000 ad/promo [with The Big Picture]; author tour)

Pub Date: July 1st, 1998
ISBN: 0-7868-6370-6
Page count: 416pp
Publisher: Hyperion
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15th, 1998


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