Suspenseful 'Paranoia' contains twists, turns

Here's the premise: You're an underachiever who impersonated your company's vice president for corporate events and hired a fancy outside caterer for a loading-dock worker's retirement party.

The ice sculptures were a big hit. The Dom Perignon flowed, though not as fast as the Budweiser. Unfortunately, a security guard blew the whistle and life, as you know it, is over.

OK, you never dreamed the party would cost $78,000, but you figure it's just a drop in the bucket for a $30 billion corporation, right? Wrong.

Your boss, CEO Nicholas Wyatt, offers you a choice: prison or corporate spying. What would you do?

Such is the dilemma for 20-something Adam Cassidy in Joseph Finder's new novel, "Paranoia" (St. Martin's Press, $24.95), though it really isn't much of a dilemma. His position as a junior product line manager for routers at Wyatt Telecommunications is low-paying and "mind-numbingly boring." He hates his job but needs to help with his dad's medical bills. Working at rival high-tech giant Trion Systems sounds better than prison -- plus, the salary and perks are great.

Tutored and indoctrinated by engineers and product-marketing types at Wyatt, Cassidy does, indeed, land a job at Trion. And before you can say "Project AURORA," he's promoted to special executive assistant to CEO Augustine "Jock" Goddard.

Soon, Cassidy is driving an $80,000 Porsche, living in a fancy apartment and dating a Trion co-worker. Cassidy finds himself bonding with Goddard, who treats him like a son, and Trion. Does he dare double-cross Wyatt?

Don't argue with the slick plot, just suspend disbelief and go along for the ride -- it's worth it.


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