Email this 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