Finder, Joseph 1958–
Finder, Joseph 1958–
PERSONAL: Born October 6, 1958, in Chicago, IL; son of Morris (a professor) and Natalie (a professor; maiden name, Stone) Finder; married; children: one daughter. Education: Yale University, B.A. (summa cum laude), 1980; Harvard University, master's degree from Harvard Russian Research Center, 1984.
CAREER: Writer; specialist in Russian studies, espionage, and international affairs. Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, teaching fellow at Harvard College, 1983–84.
MEMBER: Association of Former Intelligence Officers, Phi Beta Kappa.
Red Carpet: The Connection between the Kremlin and America's Most Powerful Businessmen (nonfiction), Holt (New York, NY), 1983.
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 (New York, NY), 2004.
Company Man, St. Martin's (New York, NY), 2005.
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.
ADAPTATIONS: Film rights to The Zero Hour have been sold to Twentieth Century-Fox; the film adaptation of High Crimes was released in 2002; Paranoia is in development for filming at Paramount and has been made into an audio book by Audio Renaissance, 2004.
SIDELIGHTS: 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 espionage thrillers, based in part upon his extensive knowledge of the former Soviet Union, that Finder has earned a critical reputation. As a reviewer for Publishers Weekly commented, Finder "rivals the early Frederick Forsyth in his riveting combination of cool prose and hot plot."
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. The novel is, Charles Michaud wrote in Library Journal, a "tale of multiple conspiracies, deception, murder, and deadly pursuit." "If Finder's fiction debut doesn't outdo Frederick Forsyth in grace of style," the critic for Publishers Weekly noted, "it surpasses both Forsyth and 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 CIA, a possible murder connected with the director's alleged involvement with a gold smuggling operation. Calling the novel "a wild tale of corruption in the world of espionage," Chris Petrakos in Chicago Tribune Books 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. FBI terrorism expert Sarah Cahill must uncover the persons 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 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. Young Adam Cassidy gets into trouble and is blackmailed by Wyatt Telecom head Nicholas Wyatt to steal the plans for a secret project at competitor Trion Systems. Cassidy agrees and soon finds himself in the uncomfortable position of being mentored by Trion head Jock Goddar, whose son committed suicide. Cassidy soon realizes that he has taken the son's place. "Finder's thriller is masterfully told and thoroughly engrossing," wrote Joe Heim in People.
In Company Man, Finder tells the story of Stratton Corporation head 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, Conover 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 Conover's house, leading to his eventual killing of a second intruder. Conover 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: "Conover is so decent and likable that the gradual unraveling of his happy, successful life goes beyond suspenseful, all the way to excruciating."
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.
Commentary, August, 1983, Edward Jay Epstein, review of Red Carpet: The Connection between the Kremlin and America's Most Powerful Businessmen, p. 86.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Crime Spree Magazine Web site, http://www.crimespreemag.com/ (July, 2005), Jason Starr, interview with the author.
Joseph Finder Home Page, http://www.josephfinder.com (October 27, 2005).