A businessman faces multiple betrayals from friends and colleagues in this debut novel.
Kyle Stone, an orphan who did a stint in the military, came up from poverty and is now president of “a large financial company in San Francisco offering retirement programs for municipalities.” However, now that he’s reached the very top of his profession, he finds that he must fend off his employees and his closest friends who aim to take away everything that he’s accomplished. After navigating a turbulent series of events—a legal ruling goes against the company, Kyle’s second-in-command tries to kill him, and then one of his employees suddenly and mysteriously dies. Readers are escorted through the years leading up to these difficulties, from Kyle’s tour in Vietnam to his start as a struggling young insurance salesman. As time goes on, he finds himself in an intricate web of greed, avarice, and deceit, but he finds comfort in his budding romance with one of his most trusted colleagues, Yvonne Lang. This business and legal thriller offers no shortage of scandal or drama. However, Kyle’s narrative arc is often difficult to follow as Payne sweeps from one character and setting to another without smooth transitions. Some statements are so jumbled that they’re difficult to decipher, such as “It was with the purpose of the black candles to attract bad energy to absorb and be directed to the one who was preying on this company, their children and families.” The narrator’s stilted language often carries over into characters’ dialogue (“Well, you are now having to deal with the consequences now, aren’t you?”), slowing the pace and making it difficult to tell one person’s voice from another.
An eventful but erratic read.