HOUSE ON FIRE by Joseph Finder


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Private investigator Nick Heller uncovers disturbing truths about a big pharmaceutical company after the fatal overdose of a war buddy addicted to its hugely profitable opioid, Oxydone.

Heller's introduction to Kimball Pharmaceutical comes through Sukie Kimball—the conscience-stricken daughter of the company's founder—who approaches him at his friend Sean's funeral. Sukie hires Heller to break into her billionaire father Conrad's home office after his retirement party and lift documents that reveal Oxydone failed its clinical trials—proof that the drug was put on the market with full knowledge of its dangers. Heller, who attends the party in the family's house as Sukie's boyfriend, is surprised to meet someone he knows—Maggie Benson, a one-time flame from his stint in Afghanistan, who's tonight wearing a wig and calling herself Hildy. When he sneaks down the hallway at 2 a.m. to try to find the papers, he finds Maggie on a similar mission, having been hired by another Kimball sibling to steal Conrad Kimball’s will. Following a murder on the grounds and other setbacks, Sukie calls him off the case. But, determined to avenge Sean, who saved his life in Afghanistan, Heller puts himself in harm's way in continuing his pursuit of those responsible for serial Oxydone deaths. Though Finder's latest thriller is well timed and well intended, it lacks the punch of his best efforts. The plot, usually his strong suit, is wobbly (wouldn't Heller be more than mildly surprised by Maggie's presence?), leading one to believe that sticking to what Heller refers to as "the Agatha Christie aspect" of the case might not have been a bad thing.

A drug thriller with too few thrills.

Pub Date: Jan. 21st, 2020
ISBN: 978-1-101-98584-7
Page count: 384pp
Publisher: Dutton
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15th, 2019


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