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4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5 stars
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I couldn't put PARANOIA down once I started. It doesn't get better than that.
Adam Cassidy, a junior product line manager in the consumer electronics giant Wyatt Telecom, pulls a prank involving the impersonation of a company VP, hacking into Wyatt's proprietary database, and illegally disbursing seventy-eight grand to fund the retirement bash of some unsuspecting (but grateful) shmoe on the loading dock. Cassidy is looking at 55 years of prison time, minimum, unless he plays ball with the company CEO, Nicholas Wyatt, who proposes a scheme to insert Adam as an espionage mole into the heart of Wyatt's biggest competitor, Trion Systems. There's evidence that Trion has initiated a super-secret project, and Cassidy's redemption is to find out what it's all about - or else.
To transform Adam into the marketable Whiz Kid that he isn't, he's intensively prepped by Nicholas Wyatt's personal "executive coach" and provided with a totally fictitious but very impressive CV. Launched into Trion for a job interview, he's subsequently hired. Through apparent luck and circumstance (and with info fed to him by his Wyatt handlers), Adam quickly becomes the special assistant to Trion's CEO, Jock Goddard. Cassidy is now in a perfect position to feed Wyatt intel on Trion's secret project, "Aurora".
As befitting an espionage thriller, author Joseph Finder divides his book's ninety-three chapters into nine parts based on spy terminology, and which mirror the plot's evolution: The Fix (a person is blackmailed into being an agent), Backstopping (establishing an agent's cover), Plumbing (a covert operation's support assets), Compromise (detection by the opposition), Blown (exposure of an agent or operation), Dead Drop (hiding place for clandestine messages), Control (pressure exerted to prevent an agent's defection), Black Bag (illegal entry to obtain intelligence material), and Active Measures (operations that'll affect another nation's policies or strategies).
PARANOIA paints a cynical portrait of corporate business practices and ethics. Indeed, Cassidy is almost an anti-hero since he isn't exactly burdened with moral scruples. He regrets his original stunt only because he got nailed, and his role at Trion because the alternative is so much worse. That is, until he decides that Goddard is the most decent human being he's ever met - the loving father figure he never had. Is Adam developing a conscience?
Even at 400+ pages, PARANOIA is one of those books one wishes would never end. The action is taut, the dialogue clever, the plot darkly comedic, and the ending deliciously twisted (though perhaps not unexpected). My only complaint - a minor one - is that the last chapter, and indeed the very last line, is so lacking in closure for the Cassidy character that I looked to see if my copy was short a couple pages. (I intended to query the author, but hadn't saved his email address.) It only works if there's to be a sequel. But, looking at the author's publishing history, sequels don't seem to be his style.
I suggest PARANOIA would make an entertaining film starring Ben Affleck as Cassidy, Donald Sutherland as Goddard, and Tim Roth as Wyatt.
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on 1 March 2006
This is the story of Adam Cassidy a corporate waster who takes the concept of stealing stationary to the next level and gets more than he bargained for in his disciplinary...
His story, told from Adam's viewpoint, almost takes a snapshot of modern, business environments - it's almost like standing, invisible, next to the water cooler listening to the juiciest office gossip. I thought that the style in which this was written was the real hook for me, I thought it was effortlessly written with a real gritty style that reminded me a little of Elmore Leonard. The characters are very well drawn and are consistent. I too found it predictable - but I honestly didn't care that much as I enjoyed reading it so much. Definitely a 'one more chapter' kind of book.
Another thing I liked about this book was that it gets cracking straight from the off and doesn't let up until the final line of the book. I could have read this if it were twice as long. I will be definitely reading more of Finder's work.
An excellent thriller, recommended!
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on 29 September 2014
Unputdownable - just don't be tempted to order the DVD afterwards, because the film version is dreadful and does not do the book justice!

The main character Adam is rumbled for misappropriating his employer's expense account to give a decent retirement party to a colleague, because he thinks it's a poor do that the boss is just letting him go after decades of loyal service.

The "big cheese" gives him an ultimatum - either face jail for embezzlement, or go undercover to work for a rival firm, to report back on a top-secret project. Obviously Adam goes with the second option - with a double-edged sword - if he fails his quest, he will go to jail for fraud, one way or another!!

He is not really qualified for the role he needs to secure at the rival company, which is all part of the challenge - he has to blag things at every turn. He is given all the material trappings (swanky new apartment, flash motor and designer threads) so that he "looks the part" and he is the envy of his friends, who are still stuck in more humble jobs. Before long he is bedding the beautiful woman, who is also involved in the secret project. The connotation is that he probably would never have been able to pull her in his previous incarnation, but she is falling for him under false pretences - he may be genuinely falling in love with her, but if she discovers what he is up to she will think he has just been using her. He also finds that he rather likes his new boss - who is a bitter business rival of his old boss. His father (who is an invalid and has always worked hard in an honest job, but never made any money) has his suspicions that Adam's new found career success is not all it seems. This all makes you think about the temptations people face, where status, wealth and success triumph over moral values.

I would like to interject that I lent this book to a friend who is an IT consultant and he said that some of the "techie" stuff in the book is not farfetched. But if you are not a techie, the story is interesting and compelling nevertheless.

The plot is gripping and keeps you on edge, rooting for Adam to get away with each challenge and obstacle he faces.
And there is a brilliant twist towards the end. Some people would say that the final conclusion to the story is a bit weak, and I cannot say any more about that without spoiling the plot, but it did not matter to me - it is like being on a really exciting journey and then finding the destination isn't that exciting but you have enjoyed getting there.
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on 10 February 2006
The first thing I do when I finish a book, especially one that I really enjoyed, is look at the reviews to see what others though of it. I tend to look at the lowest ratings first to see whether or not I agree with the reviewers take on what I just read, and for `PARANOIA' most people who gave it a poor review said that it was predictable....now call me slow but I just did not see it coming! I did not think it to be predictable in the least and I loved the way Finder wrote the book in the first person, it really drew me to the character and into the story.
When slacker Adam Cassidy throws an over the top retirement party for a loading dock worker and charges it to his employers expense account he fully expected to get fired. What he didn't expect was to be threatened with a minimum jail sentence of twenty years if he didn't cooperate with Nick Wyatt, founder and CEO of Wyatt Corporation. You see Nick has heard through the grapevine that his competition, Trion, has something major in the works that could potentially revolutionize the communications industry and Wyatt wants it! This is where Adam comes in, they train him to be a model employee as well as their perfect spy.
Once Adam is hired he quickly sky rockets to an executive level position, working directly for Trion's CEO. He is making a six-figure salary, driving a Porsche, and living in a $2million condo all paid for by the company. But as Adam soon finds out being a spy and trying to keep his day job are not as glamorous as it may seem.
One reviewer hit it on the nose when they said that this book reminded them of a Harlan Coben novel. `PARANOIA' was not quite as fast paced as Coben's novels but it certainly had the same feel to it, twist at the end included and all!
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on 1 June 2013
Paranoia is a thriller set in the world of high-tech corporate espionage - not something that would usually appeal to me, but it was recommended by a friend who's generally spot-on with his thriller recommendations. He didn't let me down!

Paranoia is the tale of Adam Cassidy, a slacker in a very minor position with Wyatt Telecom, a massive US tech company. He gets caught after ripping off the company - organising a lavish retirement party for a warehouse foreman, using company funds - and is given an ultimatum by his sociopathic CEO: go to jail for fraud and embezzlement, or use his skills for hacking and lying to the company's benefit, by becoming a spy for them at a rival company.

Not having much choice in the matter, Adam agrees, and becomes Wyatt's "inside-man" at competitor Trion Systems, thanks to a nice new CV courtesy of Wyatt, and his own gift of the gab. However, it's not long before he starts to feel conflicted, as he becomes close to the fatherly CEO of Trion, not to mention a gorgeous co-worker called Alana, and his loyalties are seriously called into question. But with the dirt that Wyatt have on him, can he afford to listen to his conscience?

Corporate politics and espionage could potentially be a pretty boring subject, but Joseph Finder spares the reader from going too in-depth about boardroom politics and technology. The focus is all on Adam, as the story is told in the first-person, and he's a generally likeable narrator. Essentially a slacker, he starts off completely uninterested in furthering his career or playing the game, until he has to, and finds out he's pretty good at it.

The story whips along at a brisk pace, and is one of those real "page-turners" that is so hard to put down, as you just want to find out what happens next. This was a thoroughly entertaining read, if a little light-weight, and would be a great book to take on holiday. It is a bit worrying though to think whether this level of spying does go on in real life, it seems disturbingly all too plausible.
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on 27 April 2014
Have now read ( listened to) 4 of Joseph Finder's novels and find them highly enjoyable with his insider's
knowledge of the world of business. I liked this story but the narrator just wasn't good enough and all the characters
sounded the same as he read it in such a monotone. Shame as story is quite tense.
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on 22 May 2009
Paranoia is an amazing book. Adam Cassidy is a believable and likeable character that finds himself between a rock and multiple hard places when a corporate prank takes a turn for the worst when instead of jail time, Adam is recruited to spy on a rival company.
With the amazing help of his previous boss and his psychologist, Adam is molded and trained into a business machine/corporate mole. The espionage, the deceite, the forced oppertunites and plot all leave you wanting more and make Paranoia very hard to put down.
When Adam starts having doubts about his double life the sparks start to fly and there seems like no way out till the ending, which is truely remarkable and to an extent has been staring you right in the face admist the action of Finder's masterpiece.
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on 2 June 2009
I did enjoy this book although at a couple of points I was struggling to continue. I'm not sure why. The book definately picked up in the latter half where Adam Cassidy the main character skyrockets through trion and I started to really like him. Dare I say it (most people will likely disagree) I think this book would make a better movie. I almost felt like at times I was reading a companion piece to an already written movie although this is perhaps a lot to do with its fast pacing once you get into it. Not the best book I've read however enough for me to try another Joseph Finder book.
If you find yourself stuttering through read until the end it's worth it.
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Young man finds himself backed into a corner and ends up going into a rival company as a corporate spy. Under pressure to deliver results in both roles, the pressure starts to tell...

Fast moving with short chapters, an engaging main character and a good knowledge of the world of the corporate, this is fun stuff. I saw how the story was going to turn out quite early on but it was still worth enjoying.

This is not the fast moving masterpiece some are suggesting, but the author delivers an entertaining corporate thriller and it moves at such a pace you don't really notice the occasional holes in the plot!
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on 18 June 2009
I normally go for the chick lit or the working girl type books but This is the first book I have read of Finders and I have just ordered Company man as I really enjoyed paranoia I wanted to read more, the book was additive I just couldnt put it down, the twist at the end was unexpected and suprising as promised on the back of the book, even after reading this book I still find myself thinking about it and how much i enjoyed it. I think the way he describes everything so well was brilliant and gripping, I could really picture the scenes in my mind as if i was Adam himself, great book recommend it to anybody!
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