POISON PILL by Glenn Kaplan


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Kaplan (Evil, Inc., 2007, etc.) spins another tale of amoral ambition among the possessors of Gulfstreams, private estates and offshore bank accounts.

In the high-stakes sport where people are game pieces and dollars are on the scoreboard, the players are Percival & Baxter, a major pharmaceutical manufacturer; Anglia Partners, a capital investment firm; and Viktor Volkov, a billionaire Russian oligarch. P&B’s rumored to have developed chemistry that could result in the "first female orgasm pill." Residing in London, the wily Volkov, attempting to shift crime-earned billions into legitimate enterprises, intends to drive P&B’s stock to the bottom and buy controlling interest. Enter Anglia, Josh Katz’s troubled investment firm, in need of a cash infusion. Anglia will front for Volkov, a decision complicated by the fact that Josh’s former wife, Emma Conway, is a high-ranking P&B executive. Mentioning all the right addresses, the right schools and the right brand names, Kaplan moves the setting from London to Philadelphia to Connecticut. Volkov sparks P&B’s collapse by having his agents add cyanide to a batch of Acordinol. The first poisoned pill kills P&B’s CEO and then six innocents. Amid panic, corporate leadership falls to Conway. There’s a minor plot hole, but Kaplan does a decent job of ratcheting tension as the leveraged buyout attempt unfolds, exacerbated by personal tension between Conway and Katz. In a parallel thread, Peter Katz, the pair’s teenage son, and Tanya Volkov, the Russian’s just-out-of-college daughter, meet at Kroesus Kids, a luxury camp for billionaire progeny. The youngsters stumble over their own emotional immaturities and then become part of the problem—and part of the solution. Other minor characters, including Conway’s always-wise-counsel mother, Katz’s cut-any-corner PR guy and Volkov’s amoral henchmen, run to the formulaic.

A good-enough drama of the clash between greed and good guys, albeit saddled with a too-neat conclusion.

Pub Date: Oct. 22nd, 2013
ISBN: 978-0-7653-3690-3
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Forge
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15th, 2013


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