An evil corporation takes its pursuit of consumer loyalty to a whole new level in this corporate espionage novel.
There’s an unabashedly old-fashioned adventure story at the heart of Hakala’s lean, tensely plotted novel, a throwback adventure in which the good guys might say things like, “You'll never get away with this!” and the bad guys might reply, “Oh, but I shall.” Hakala marries his melodrama to a precisely controlled, contemporary plot and fills the whole thing with snappy dialogue. Two seemingly irreconcilable stories kick off the book: former Wall Street “king of the hill” Thornton “Thorny” Walsh has been relegated to a basement office in the wake of his firm’s merger with a gigantic Wall Street outfit, and idealistic Boston police officer Traci Ross is investigating a baffling series of rapes. These two separate worlds are brought together when an extremely shady businessman, hiding behind the shell of an innocent-seeming pet food company, begins a carefully orchestrated (and effectively described—Hakala is skilled at plot kinetics) plan to subvert the world economy. True to the Sam Spade template, Walsh stoically endures quite a bit of danger (including threats from a gigantic Samoan who “eats cops for breakfast”) and manhandling in order to uncover the villain’s diabolical plans. Ross is a considerably less fleshed-out character (and, despite her vocation, far less capable of taking care of herself in tight situations), but the book’s chemistry saves her from being the post-modern concession she might otherwise have become. Still, it’s Walsh who keeps things moving forward (and who gets all the best lines). He’s never very likable, but he makes the novel work. Despite Hakala’s evident zeal on the subject of food additives and government quality controls, the book never descends into polemic; this is first and foremost entertainment.
An engaging, well-executed thriller.