An ethical Jewish businessman fights corporate evil in this seriously flawed third novel (The Man I Never Wanted to Be, 1998, etc.).
Michael Kuperman has a thriving business, an attractive family and a swell house in the Boston suburbs, but what’s on his mind is genocide. The 1994 slaughter in Rwanda is in full swing, and this manifestation of evil reminds Michael of the pogroms which drove his grandfather Jacob Goldstein out of Russia. Jacob, who enabled seven other Jewish families to reach America, has become Michael’s spiritual mentor, even though he died before Michael was born. As an observant Jew married to a determinedly secular wife, Michael is increasingly reflecting on his roots, when he’s not hard at work with his African-American partner, negotiating a merger which will greatly expand their software business. But there’s a problem; their brilliant techie Steve has come across something horrible involving their major client Chemicorp, one of whose subsidiaries has been shipping deadly nerve gas. The action heats up, literally, when Michael’s car is set on fire (Michael sees a Biblical reference); then a Chemicorp executive is shot dead and whiz-kid Steve is blown to pieces. All this happens past the halfway point. The first half is full of family matters: Michael’s mother’s sudden death from an aneurysm, the disappearance of his cranky father Ira and his reappearance in the love nest of his mistress, a well-kept secret. Clayton’s attempt to fuse Michael’s midlife identity quest with dastardly corporate crime just doesn’t work. Michael and his family take shelter with Orthodox Jews in Brooklyn, but the bad guys track him down and Michael (“he’s Tutsi, he’s Bosnian”) runs for his life. The action borders on farce, but everything is resolved before Ira’s schmaltzy wedding to his mistress—nothing beats a happy ending.
Pretentious and silly.