St. Martin's, Jan 2004, 24.95, 432 pp.
Adam Cassidy works rather poorly as a minor product-line manager at Wyatt Telecom. When his friend Jonesie retires, Adam impersonates the VP for Corporate Events and places an order with Meals of Splendor to cater a luncheon on the loading docks to rival what they did last week for the Salesman of the Year banquet. The gala continued past midnight when a security guard heard the band still playing.
Adam anticipates being fired, but instead learns his extravagance cost $78,000 and if he prefers to avoid a stretch in the pen for embezzlement, he will become a high tech industrial spy. Adam reluctantly begins working for rival Trion Systems, but reports insider information to Wyatt Telecom Corporate Security. Once proud of his high ethical standards, Adam finds the people including the CEO at Trion treat him with dignity while he tries to gain knowledge about a quantum leap forward in technology considered as big as the first integrated circuit. Failure means jail; success means betrayal.
PARANOIA is a superb thriller that grasps the reader into an all night stand because of the appealing central protagonist. Adam changes from a character similar to the heroic slacker of Office Space to a person struggling with his conscience lecturing him like a teacher haranguing a misbehaving student. While the suspense grows as to whether he will do it or not, Adam knows that author John C. Maxwell is right as There Is No Such Thing as Business Ethics being any different than just living and working according to the Golden Rule. He wonders how he can do that without paying the price of twenty years in prison.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner