Finder, Joseph 1958-
Finder, Joseph 1958-
Born October 6, 1958, in Chicago, IL; son of Morris (a professor) and Natalie (a professor) Finder; married; children: one daughter. Education: Yale University, B.A. (summa cum laude), 1980; Harvard University, M.A., 1984.
Home—Cambridge, MA. Agent—Molly Friedrich, Friedrich Agency, 136 E. 57th St., 15th Fl., New York, NY 10022. E-mail—[email protected]
Writer. Specialist in Russian studies, espionage, and international affairs. Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, teaching fellow at Harvard College, 1983-84.
PEN New England, Mystery Writers of America, International Thriller Writers, Association of Former Intelligence Officers, Phi Beta Kappa.
Ian Fleming Steel Dagger nomination, Crime Writers of America, for Paranoia; Barry Award for Best Thriller, Deadly Pleasures magazine, 2006, and Thriller Award for Best Novel, International Thriller Writers, 2007, both for Killer Instinct.
The Moscow Club, Viking (New York, NY), 1991.
Extraordinary Powers, Ballantine (New York, NY), 1994.
The Zero Hour, Morrow (New York, NY), 1996.
High Crimes, Morrow (New York, NY), 1998.
Paranoia, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 2004.
Company Man, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 2005, reprinted as No Hiding Place, Orion (London, England), 2006.
Killer Instinct, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 2006.
Power Play, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 2007.
Red Carpet: The Connection between the Kremlin and America's Most Powerful Businessmen (nonfiction), Holt (New York, NY), 1983.
Contributor of writings on espionage and international affairs to magazines and newspapers, including Atlantic, New Republic, Harper's, New York Times, Washington Post, and Publishers Weekly.
High Crimes was adapted as a major motion picture, Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation, 2002.
Joseph Finder began his writing career with Red Carpet: The Connection between the Kremlin and America's Most Powerful Businessmen, a nonfiction account of Western capitalists making profits from trade with the communist world. However, it is as a writer of tense, fast-moving thrillers, based in part upon his extensive knowledge of international politics and corporate boardrooms, that Finder has earned a critical reputation. The author told Bookreporter.com interviewer Joe Hartlaub that "one of the things I love most about my job is the ability to find out all kinds of things on a very deep, insider level—in part because of my sources in both the intelligence community and the corporate world, and in part because of the simple fact that people will tell me things, as a novelist, that they'd never tell a journalist. And I love passing the insider stuff on to my readers in the form of page-turning entertainment."
Red Carpet, Finder once told CA, "is a nonfiction account of how a very few prominent American businessmen (David Rockefeller, Armand Hammer, Averell Harriman, Cyrus Eaton, and Donald Kendall) came to be involved with the Soviet Union and why. It is based on interviews with the principals, with their colleagues, and with government officials and on documents made available under the Freedom of Information Act, in addition to the normal sources."
Finder's research for Red Carpet led him to write The Moscow Club, a fictional account of a secret plan to reinstall a communist regime in Russia and the efforts of one American agent to stop it. Charles Michaud wrote in Library Journal that the novel is a "tale of multiple conspiracies, deception, murder, and deadly pursuit." "If Finder's fiction debut doesn't outdo Frederick Forsyth in grace of style," a critic for Publishers Weekly noted, "it surpasses both Forsyth and [Robert] Ludlum in density of mystery and swirl of action." A Kirkus Reviews contributor called The Moscow Club an "overblown, entertaining first novel" and "compulsively readable." Michaud concluded that Finder's story exhibits "a driving what-happens-next readability."
Extraordinary Powers opens with the death of the director of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), a possible murder connected with the director's alleged involvement in a gold smuggling operation. Calling the novel "a wild tale of corruption in the world of espionage," Tribune Books contributor Chris Petrakos wrote that "Finder keeps things lively with heavy doses of paranoia, cunning plot twists and a varied cast of characters, none of whom can be trusted." A Kirkus Reviews contributor noted that "the complex story purrs along like a high-powered race car loaded with options."
The Zero Hour concerns a terrorist plot to destroy the computer system that controls most of the world's monetary transactions and stock trading. Sarah Cahill, a terrorism expert for the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), must uncover the people behind the plot and foil their scheme before the world's economy is dealt a crippling blow. George Needham, writing in Booklist, commented that "the tale provides lots of surprises, zooming along at breakneck speed to a thrilling climax." The Zero Hour, according to Mark Dery in a review for the New York Times Book Review, "is goose-bump-good fun." A Kirkus Reviews contributor noted the author's ability to keep "the menace breathlessly exciting rather than grimly scary. The result is as fleet and entertaining as Black Sunday, if you don't mind rooting for an international bank."
Finder presents a courtroom drama involving secret identities and possibly murder in High Crimes. When Claire Heller, a law school professor and successful defense attorney, learns that her devoted husband has been arrested for murdering peasants in El Salvador, she takes on the case even though she had no idea that her husband's real name is Ron Kubik and that he worked as an American operative in South America. In fact, her husband had even undergone plastic surgery to prevent discovery. A Publishers Weekly contributor wrote that the "thriller has enough twists and texture to keep readers turning the pages. The issue of trust and betrayal is nicely articulated, and the ending delivers a visceral shock." Barbara Conaty, writing in Library Journal, noted: "Cinematic qualities predominate as the dialog rolls on page after page with taut give-and-take and sudden plot turns." In a review in Booklist, Mary Carroll noted the "lively, affecting story" and called the novel a "page-turner."
Paranoia is a tale of corporate spying. Adam Cassidy, a young middle-management worker, gets into trouble and is blackmailed by Nicholas Wyatt, chief executive officer (CEO) of Wyatt Telecom, to steal the plans for a secret project at competitor Trion Systems. Adam agrees and soon finds himself in the uncomfortable position of being mentored by Trion CEO Jock Goddar, whose son committed suicide. Adam soon realizes that he has taken Jock's son's place. "Finder's thriller is masterfully told and thoroughly engrossing," wrote Joe Heim in a review for People.
In Company Man, Finder tells the story of Stratton Corporation CEO Nick Conover and the murderous turn his life takes after he is ordered to lay off 5,000 workers by his company's new owners, Fairfield Equity. As he follows the order, Nick soon becomes the most despised man in town. He is under further pressure because of his wife's recent death and his difficulties dealing with the stress of raising two children alone. Before long, someone breaks into Nick's house, leading to his eventual killing of a second intruder. Nick takes the misguided advice of a friend and hides the body instead of reporting it to the police. "This is a terrific thriller that focuses on the gimmicks and misdeeds of the modern day corporation as much as it does on a police investigation," wrote a contributor to MBR Bookwatch. Anne Fisher, writing in Fortune, noted that Nick "is so decent and likable that the gradual unraveling of his happy, successful life goes beyond suspenseful, all the way to excruciating."
Finder's next novel, Killer Instinct, is another corporate thriller. This time, a series of seeming coincidences results in Jason Steadman's exorbitant rise to the upper echelon of his electronics company. Mild-mannered and middle-class, Jason is chagrined to find that all his rivals are suffering unusual accidents and misfortune after he befriends a tow-truck driver (who is also a veteran of the U.S. Special Forces) who assisted him after a car accident. Suspicious of his good fortune, Jason embarks on an investigation to discover what is behind it and discovers that his newfound success (a bigger house, a happy wife, a growing roster of clients) is the result of a behind-the-scenes puppet master. "Finder is a first-rate story weaver," wrote Connie Fletcher in Booklist. Daniel Asa Rose, writing in the New York Times Book Review, acknowledged that the story suffers from "breathtaking predictability" but concluded that it contains "scenes of flawlessly executed violence, crisp dialogue and taut pacing."
In Power Play, Jake Landry is a junior executive at Hammond Aerospace. While attending the annual company retreat, which is held at a remote Canadian hunting lodge, Jake is asked by Cheryl Tobin, Hammond Aerospace's new CEO, to spy on the company's top officers, who may be involved in a scandal. When several armed men posing as local hunters take the group hostage and demand a ransom of one hundred million dollars, it falls on Jake to rescue his team. "As thrillers go," wrote Boston Globe contributor Chuck Leddy, "Power Play is a delicious, perfectly prepared mixture of the genre's familiar ingredients." Jeff Ayers, writing in Library Journal, called the novel a "[nail-biter] of a read," and South Florida Sun-Sentinel critic Oline H. Cogdill stated that "Finder knows how to fashion a superior thriller that shows corporate politics at its wors[t]."
Asked to describe the inspiration behind his novels of corporate intrigue, Finder remarked to Bookreporter.com interviewers Carol Fitzgerald, Joe Hartlaub, and Wiley Saichek: "The truth is, I think that professional book people tend to be a bit out of touch with the more than hundred million people in this country alone who work in business and the corporation. In fact, I'd go further—I think that a vast majority of Americans spend most of their working hours in the workplace, and they know that it's in many ways a microcosm of the whole world." Finder added, "It just so happens, though, that there are hardly any novels set in the world in which most of us spend most of our time. Law firms, sure. Police forces, always. But the sort of thing that John Grisham does for lawyers, I'm hoping to do for everyone else in the working world. And it seems that people are starting to catch on."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Armchair Detective, fall, 1991, review of The Moscow Club, p. 411.
Booklist, November 15, 1990, review of The Moscow Club, p. 578; January 1, 1994, Joe Collins, review of Extraordinary Powers, p. 787; March 1, 1996, George Needham, review of The Zero Hour, p. 1076; December 1, 1997, Mary Carroll, review of High Crimes, p. 586; March 15, 2006, Connie Fletcher, review of Killer Instinct, p. 5; May 1, 2007, Joanne Wilkinson, review of Power Play, p. 24.
Boston Globe, August 22, 2007, Chuck Leddy, "Corporate Intrigue Drives Power Play."
Commentary, August, 1983, Edward Jay Epstein, review of Red Carpet: The Connection between the Kremlin and America's Most Powerful Businessmen, p. 86.
Economist, August 25, 2007, "Chief Fiction Officer: Face Value," p. 57.
Entertainment Weekly, April 15, 2005, Jennifer Reese, review of Company Man, p. 86.
Fortune, April 18, 2005, Anne Fisher, review of Company Man, p. 48.
Insight on the News, March 25, 1991, Susan Katz Keating, "Sovietologist Finds Niche in Fiction," p. 60.
Kirkus Reviews, November 15, 1990, review of The Moscow Club, pp. 1554-1555; November 15, 1993, review of Extraordinary Powers, p. 1410; March 15, 1996, review of The Zero Hour, p. 393; March 1, 2006, review of Killer Instinct, p. 198.
Library Journal, December, 1990, Charles Michaud, review of The Moscow Club, p. 162; April 1, 1996, review of The Zero Hour, p. 116; December, 1997, Barbara Conaty, review of High Crimes, p. 150; March 15, 2006, Jeff Ayers, review of Killer Instinct, p. 62; July 1, 2007, Jeff Ayers, review of Power Play, p. 75.
Los Angeles Times Book Review, August 4, 1996, review of The Zero Hour, p. 8.
MBR Bookwatch, April, 2005, review of Company Man.
New Yorker, July 22, 1996, review of The Zero Hour, p. 69.
New York Times Book Review, February 27, 1994, review of Extraordinary Powers, p. 20; June 16, 1996, Mark Dery, review of The Zero Hour, p. 16; July 23, 2006, Daniel Asa Rose, review of Killer Instinct.
People, June 24, 1996, J.D. Reed, review of The Zero Hour, p. 34; February 2, 2004, Joe Heim, review of Paranoia, p. 39.
Publishers Weekly, December 21, 1990, Sybil Steinberg, review of The Moscow Club, p. 42; April 17, 1995, review of Extraordinary Powers, p. 54; March 25, 1996, review of The Zero Hour, p. 59; November 10, 1997, review of High Crimes, p. 54; March 13, 2006, review of Killer Instinct, p. 36; June 18, 2007, review of Power Play, p. 35.
South Florida Sun-Sentinel, September 5, 2007, Oline H. Cogdill, review of Power Play.
Tribune Books (Chicago, IL), February 17, 1991, review of The Moscow Club, p. 7; January 16, 1994, Chris Petrakos, review of Extraordinary Powers, p. 6.
Washington Monthly, July-August, 1983, Jonathan Rowe, review of Red Carpet, p. 59.
Washington Post, February 14, 1991, review of The Moscow Club, p. B1; March 8, 1994, review of Extraordinary Powers, p. B2; July 18, 1996, review of The Zero Hour, p. C2.
Writer, March, 2007, Jeff Ayers, "Joseph Finder: The Art of Suspense: The Bestselling Author of Paranoia and Other Novels Offers a Wealth of Advice on What Hurts and Helps a Story—and When It Pays to Break the ‘Rules’ of Fiction," p. 18.
Armchair Interviews,http://www.armchairinterviews.com/ (July 1, 2008), Bob Pike, review of Power Play.
BookPleasures.com,http://www.bookpleasures.com/ (July 1, 2008), Norm Goldman, interview with Joseph Finder and review of Power Play.
Bookreporter.com,http://www.bookreporter.com/ (January, 2004), "Author Talk: Joseph Finder"; (January 16, 2004), Carol Fitzgerald, Joe Hartlaub, and Wiley Saichek, interview with Finder about Paranoia; (April 22, 2005), Carol Fitzgerald, Joe Hartlaub, and Wiley Saichek, interview with Finder about Company Man; (May 19, 2006), Carol Fitzgerald, Joe Hartlaub, and Wiley Saichek, interview with Finder about Killer Instinct; (August 24, 2007), Joe Hartlaub, interview with Finder about Power Play.
Crime Spree,http://www.crimespreemag.com/ (July 25, 2008), Jason Starr, interview with Finder.
Huffington Post,http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ (August 23, 2007), M.J. Rose, review of Power Play.
International Thriller Writers Web site,http://www.thrillerwriters.org/ (April, 2008), "Joseph Finder Interview."
Joseph Finder Home Page,http://www.josephfinder.com (July 1, 2008).
New Mystery Reader,http://www.newmysteryreader.com/ (July 1, 2008), interview with Finder.
Orion Books,http://www.orionbooks.co.uk/ (July 1, 2008), "Joseph Finder, Author of Killer Instinct and No Hiding Place, Answers Our Questions."
Reviewing the Evidence,http://www.reviewingtheevidence.com/ (September, 2007), Sharon Wheeler, review of Power Play.
Shots Ezine Online,http://www.shotsmag.co.uk/ (July 1, 2008), Ali Karim, "The Paranoid World of Joseph Finder" and "Joseph Finder Interviewed by Ali Karim."
Writer Unboxed,http://writerunboxed.com/ (January 4, 2008), Kathleen Bolton, "Author Interview: Joseph Finder."