A Key to the Suite by John D. MacDonald
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I first read this book when I was thirteen and clueless about corporate politics and thought it pretty boring compared to the other crime-noir novels I was reading back then. Now, though, after serving time in the corporate world, including having been tasked with some of the same post-merger duties given the novel's protagonist, I found this book absolutely riveting and read it straight through from beginning to end. The plot is a riff on post-merger organizational politics. Floyd Hubbard, corporate hatchet man, is heading to a convention to give a final review of Jesse Mulaney, the soon to be axed head of sales. Mulaney, with the help of his right-hand man, Fred Frick, will not go gentle into the good night and crafts a plan to set up Hubbard and embarrass him at the convention in the hope that this will save Mulaney's job long enough so he can collect his pension. That's the battle drawn and to discover the surprising way it plays out you will just have to read the book yourself. Also on tap, though, is the maturation of Floyd Hubbard into a stone-cold executive. MacDonald also delivers that arc with a nail gun. Another thing that makes this such a great read is the way MacDonald makes full use of the third-person point of view to show this power struggle from all angles; not just from the main characters' point-of-view, but from the minor characters' viewpoints as well. That depth of characterization, combined with an intricate plot filtered through a perspectival point-of-view, should make this a compelling read even if you haven't spent time in the corporate world. MacDonald obviously knew the business world inside and out, however, so if you've been there and done that, this novel rings true.
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