QUESTIONABLE PRACTICES by Ruth Karen

QUESTIONABLE PRACTICES

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KIRKUS REVIEW

When Ken Ward, director of foreign sales for The Copter Company, commits suicide, his protÉgÉ Jim Lindner is given the big job. And it isn't long before Jim--who, as a Germany-based Copter Co. exec, has already received various bribe offers in the Mideast--discovers why Ken killed himself. ""Questionable corporate payments abroad"" galore, secretly authorized by the Company's top brass. . . but Ken had to take the rap when investigations began. (""They must have pushed him into a comer where he saw no way out."") Moreover, the Company wants Jim to continue in Ken's footsteps: he's sent off on a tour of key foreign contacts (Singapore, Lagos, Basel) and meets a variety of seductive and/or smarmy bagmen, officials, and local power brokers. But when Jim sees the extent of the evil--""a mess of corruption, evasion and double-dealing that made him ill""--he decides to expose the higher-ups, aided by Ken's diary, which proves the top officials' prior knowledge of everything. And so it goes--with a little time out for a pretty extraneous Palestinian/Italian-terrorist kidnapping of Jim's new beloved, Vassar-educated exec Anne. (She's rescued by Israelis, who demand a $1-million copter as a reward.) Karen details the various forms of kickback, bribe, and payola with conviction; but otherwise this slow-moving assemblage has little appeal. The sequential revealings of one corruption after another make for a flat, repetitive format; Jim, often implausibly naive and righteous, is a pallid hero whose love life with a bag-lady and Anne (""he had never been so big, so erect, so ravenous"") is awkwardly injected; and Karen allows the narrative to become far too leisurely, talky, and digressive--rambling dinner conversations abound. Competent enough for those intensely interested in the non-fiction values here. Otherwise--dullish and ungainly.

Pub Date: April 2nd, 1980
Publisher: Harper & Row