Kemske’s fifth novel (The Third Lion, 1998, etc.) offers the big business gadfly’s by-now familiar array of zingers and stingers aimed at wayward corporate America.
Stillman Colby, retired, was a labor-relations consultant—a union-buster actually, among the most fearsome. Until, that is, he went one-on-one with shrewd, tough Harvey Lathrop, president of FOW (Federated Office Workers), whose victory in a crucial union election sent Colby crashing to defeat and out to pasture. But the gods of commerce never sleep, and in a delicious twist (Colby's view of it), Lathrop himself comes under union siege guns. Now it's the headquarters staff of FOW that’s in danger of being organized. Which explains why Dennis, Colby's former boss (and banisher), makes a pilgrimage to a certain woodsy, very out-of-the-way cabin. Latham, his latest client, in dire straits, has issued an SOS for the hated Colby, and only Colby, and Colby, it need hardly be said, can't resist. At FOW, however, he finds a situation quite unlike any he's encountered before. To begin with, no one's ever heard of the attacking union, IBOL (International Brotherhood of Labor); even the whereabouts of its headquarters is shrouded in mystery. Moreover, Latham, though clearly feeling pressure, seems a curiously detached ally. Life gets even more complicated when Colby meets Katherine, the winsome, sexy, thoroughly ambiguous FOW v.p. detached to him as executive officer. Suddenly, all Colby's rules for success among the corporates seem to have been appropriated by enemies, and he finds himself in danger of losing much that he took for granted—e.g., his war, his wife, and perhaps even his reason for being.
It's virtually impossible to find someone to root for but, then, that's the point. Wry, sly, depressing.