Excerpt from FACTSHEET FIVE 32, 1989, pp. 101-102, by Mike Gunderloy


This one is a novel which explores some of the relations between freedom, justice, law and free enterprise. The key incident which sets it all off is the kidnapping of millionaire entrepreneur Hannibal Grayne, leaving his wife and two daughters behind. Knowing that his eldest, Caldwell, shares his ideals, Grayne has left her in charge, and she refuses to pay the ransom. As a result, the kidnappers kill him, and his business empire starts to crumble. The rest of the book traces Caldwell's and her younger sister Hayley's attempts to cope with their lives having been turned upside down.

The basic lesson which comes out here is that there are people who count, but they are a small minority of the people in the world. It's an elitist view of things, which endorses a sort of libertarian rugged individualism as the highest calling of human nature. On the one side, we have the benevolent dictator figure of Grayne, who provides wisely for his employees. On the other, there is Jimmy Skinner, labor agitator and later venture capitalist, who only wants to milk as much money as he can out of other people.

As ideology, I don't agree with this very much; many of the characters and their motivations seem as unreal as those in an Ayn Rand novel. But as a suspense story, it's rather readable. Katz's prose needs some polish, but the plot is intriguing enough to keep the pages turning. Though the happy ending is telegraphed well in advance, the exact route by which it comes is more than a bit of a surprise. (272 pp. tpb)

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