Book: Killer Instinct

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Killer Instinct: A Novel

Author: Joseph Finder
Publisher: St. Martin's Press

Jason Steadman is a thirty-year-old sales executive living in Boston and working for an electronics giant, a competitor to Sony and Panasonic. He’s a witty, charismatic guy who’s well liked at the office, but he lacks the “killer instinct” necessary to move up the corporate ladder. To the chagrin of his ambitious wife, it looks as if his career has hit a ceiling. Jasons been sidelined.

But all that will change one evening when Jason meets Kurt Semko, a former Special Forces officer just back from Iraq. Looking for a decent pitcher for the company softball team, Jason gets Kurt, who was once drafted by the majors, a job in Corporate Security. Soon, good things start to happen for Jason—and bad things start to happen to Jasons rivals. His career suddenly takes off. He’s an overnight success. Only too late does Jason discover that his friend Kurt has been secretly paving his path to the top by the most “efficient”—and ruthless—means available. After all, Kurt says, “Business is war, right?” But when Jason tries to put a stop to it, he finds that his new best friend has become the most dangerous enemy imaginable. And now it’s far more than just his career that lies in the balance.

A riveting tale of ambition, intrigue, and the price of success, Killer Instinct is Joseph Finder at his best.


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We’ve all seen the catchy business titles—Victory Secrets of Attila the Hun, Patton on Leadership, The Art of War for Managers, et al.—but in Joseph Finder’s corporate thriller, the kill-or-be-killed philosophies expounded upon in those types of books are taken to a deadly new level: one where business really is war.

Jason Steadman is a mild-mannered corporate executive working for a Boston-based electronics firm called Entronics. His idea of danger is going to bed without brushing his teeth, but when a fender-bender introduces him to a tow truck driver named Kurt Semko, his entire world is turned upside down. Lacking the killer instinct to close the big deal and ascend the treacherous corporate ladder, Steadman befriends Semko—a former Special Forces officer who did tours in Iraq and Afghanistan—and soon begins picking up invaluable advice from the enigmatic man. Because of Semko’s help, Steadman is promoted; in return, the exec hooks up his newfound friend with a job as a corporate security officer at Entronics. But Semko’s continued “help” involves some highly unethical—and eventually murderous—activities; and when Steadman tries to put a stop to them, he is forced to find out if he really has the killer instinct…

Readers will find it virtually impossible to put Killer Instinct down until the very last page. Finder seamlessly blends the intelligence and intrigue of financial thrillers à la Peter Spiegelman and Stephen Frey with an underlying dark foreboding similar to a Dean Koontz or Peter Straub novel. Well written, witty, and wildly explosive, Killer Instinct is easily one of the best thrillers of 2006—Stephen King meets Tom Peters. Paul Goat Allen

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