THE SWITCH by Joseph Finder
Joseph Finder is an excellent writer. He can come up with a truly inventive plot every time he sits down to compose a novel. He can spin unique and likable characters out of thin air and make them come alive on the page. He has done this over and over, and has had much success in doing so. He did it particularly well in his earlier novels. Lately he has created good plots and appealing characters but hasd also shown himself to have an Achilles heel. He doesn’t know how to believably end his stories. His latest novel THE SWITCH is a testament to that weakness.
This story focuses on Michael Tanner, a successful businessman who owns and operates a coffee company in Boston. His work requires him to travel and one day he is on a business trip and running late for the airport. He gets there but gets delayed when going through security. Afraid he is going to miss his flight he hurriedly grabs his laptop out of the tray and races to the gate.
Later he realizes he has picked up the wrong laptop. The one he has belongs to a United States Senator and has classified information on it. Meanwhile the Senator realizes she has Michael Tanner’s laptop and panics he will discover the information that is on hers. She had had her Chief of Staff illegally downland this information for her, and her having it can not be revealed.
Finder creates an an inventive reason to justify Tanner not turning the laptop over. But by keeping it he places himself in jeopardy from a list of people who will do anything and everything to get the Senator’s laptop back. With every passing moment Tanner becomes more and more aware of this as people begin to threaten him and some of his contacts die.
No one can deny this is a great plot for a tense thriller. Still with every word of the plot being read you see Finder painting the floor of a room. The painted floor is beautiful, as it is just the right color and has just the right shine. The problem is Finder has written/painted himself into a corner. He is surrounded by plot/paint and has nowhere to go.
To get out of the corner he has painted himself into, Finder has to knock down the reality wall and come up with an unsatisfactory ending. It provides a finish for the story but erases all the good work that has gone before.
It is a shame so much good writing ends up so badly. But books have to end and logic should prevail. The first four fifths of THE SWITCH is Joseph Finder at his best. You virtually won’t be able to put it down. It is that intense and thrilling. However as I headed into the final stretch I didn’t have a good feeling as to how things were going to turn out. I looked desperately for the “logical door” to get me out of the room in which I had been enclosed. It wasn’t there and I had to settle for an awkward finale.
THE SWITCH is published by Dutton. It contains 384 pages and sells for $28.00.
Jackie K Cooper