Putnam, Sep 2003, 24.95
CEO Paul Trainer of the tobacco giant Terra Holding Corporation knows his gigantic business is in trouble due to a law suit they will probably lose in Montana. He decides he needs an idiotic spokesperson so he turns to employee Trevor Barnett, whose job comes from an ancestor who was an industry giant and left him a trust fund that requires he work for the firm. Relying on the Peter Principle, Paul promotes Trevor to positions way above his apparent level of competency.
With bankruptcy pending, Paul and his associates establish a strategy that they insist Trevor must sell to the public. All tobacco-processing plants are closed, workers are placed on furloughs, and there are recalls of products from the stores and vending machines. The plan is that there will be no more cigarettes until the industry is legally exempt from lawsuits and courts sanctions. As the economy tanks, Anne Kimball of Smokeless Youth meets Trevor. She provides him with the backbone he needs to push for a campaign where the people will decide whether smoking is a first amendment right. As the couple falls in love the issue becomes even more explosive.
SMOKE SCREEN is a delightful Mr. Smith takes tobacco (rather than Washington) type of tale that hooks the audience from the moment Paul plots to use Trevor. The Runyonesque story line is fun as the no smoking policy causes havoc for politicians and the economy in such a way that it seems as if everyone inhaled. Fans of a charming amusing David with a female for a spinal column vs. Goliath novel will want to read Kyle Mills whimsical story.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner