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Debra Hamel is the mother of two preternaturally attractive girls and the author of a number of books about ancient Greece. She writes and blogs from her subterranean lair in North Haven, CT. Read more.


Books by Debra Hamel:

THE BATTLE OF ARGINUSAE :
VICTORY AT SEA AND ITS TRAGIC AFTERMATH IN THE FINAL YEARS OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR
By Debra Hamel


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KILLING ERATOSTHENES:
A TRUE CRIME STORY
FROM ANCIENT ATHENS
By Debra Hamel


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READING HERODOTUS:
A GUIDED TOUR THROUGH THE WILD BOARS, DANCING SUITORS, AND CRAZY TYRANTS OF THE HISTORY
By Debra Hamel


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THE MUTILATION OF THE HERMS:
UNPACKING AN ANCIENT MYSTERY
By Debra Hamel


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TRYING NEAIRA:
THE TRUE STORY OF A COURTESAN'S SCANDALOUS LIFE IN ANCIENT GREECE
By Debra Hamel


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SOCRATES AT WAR:
THE MILITARY HEROICS OF AN ICONIC INTELLECTUAL
By Debra Hamel


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ANCIENT GREEKS IN DRAG:
THE LIBERATION OF THEBES AND OTHER ACTS OF HEROIC TRANSVESTISM
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IT WAS A DARK AND STORMY TWEET:
FIVE HUNDRED 1ST LINES IN 140 CHARACTERS OR LESS
By Debra Hamel


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PRISONERS OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR
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Hurley, King: The Interview

  Amazon  

3.5 stars

Forty-five-year-old Michael King is the sort of guy Harrison Ford would play in a movie: a loving husband and father, Michael is the intelligent, deeply ethical, physically fit CEO of a pharmaceuticals company. The company is thriving, but after five years of trying to please its stockholders, who are more concerned with their portfolios than the company's long-term health, Michael is ready for a change. When an offer comes, it seems too good to be true: privately-owned Panda Pharmaceuticals wants Michael as their next CEO and president, a job that would bring a five-million-dollar paycheck and a private jet, as well as numerous other perks. All Michael needs to do to land the job is charm Panda's Board of Directors, a task which includes flying to Thailand to meet with the company's reclusive founder.

The pacing of King Hurley's debut novel is unusual. For more than 200 pages not very much happens. Michael is wooed by Panda Pharmaceuticals, he responds to crises in his current job, he jogs, he decodes the diplomatic remarks of Panda's Board members. We get to know him by his behavior toward subordinates and his direct statements about his philosophy of leadership. Still, there is an undercurrent of menace in the book, which may explain why it continues to engage the reader despite that little of significance seems to be happening. Suffice it to say that the book's plot does pick up eventually, and that in those first 200 pages Hurley is preparing his characters for the ordeal to follow. (Unfortunately the hardcover lacks jacket copy, so one enters into the book without any sense of what kind of a book it is: 200 pages in and I was worried the story would end without incident, with Michael landing the job and relocating his family to Virginia. Happily, that's not quite what happens.)

I had some problems with the book. Michael is the only character who becomes more than two-dimensional, and Hurley can be overly sentimental. The book, too, sometimes reads like a novelized manual for the enlightened CEO:

"'Diplomacy is not my strong suit, I'm afraid.'

'Diplomacy is nothing more than nudging people toward your own way of thinking and making them believe it's their idea,' I told her. 'Giving ownership is the best motivator I know of.'"

The level of callousness displayed by Hurley's bad guys near the book's end is nearly impossible to swallow. But the biggest problem is with the book's first chapter. Hurley packs a lot of background information into its nine pages, and he is not very subtle about it:
"I got up and trudged into the bathroom. I switched on the light, and my mind automatically began the mental gymnastics of a Chief Executive Officer in charge of a precariously successful pharmaceutical company with yearly sales of 500 million dollars and a pack of demanding stockholders growling for more."
This is unfortunate, because it's the reader's first impression of the book. Happily, the problem is confined to the first chapter. The rest of the book reads almost as if written by another hand.

But despite its flaws, I liked The Interview. The story is entertaining, and I was impressed with the author's ability to keep us interested during the long stretch before the bullets start flying. Besides, I really do think it would make a good Harrison Ford flick.

Review summary: Michael King is the sort of guy Harrison Ford would play in a movie: a loving husband and father, Michael is the intelligent, deeply ethical, physically fit CEO of a pharmaceuticals company. The company is thriving, but Michael is ready for a change. When an offer comes, it seems too good to be true: privately-owned Panda Pharmaceuticals wants Michael as their next CEO. All Michael needs to do is charm Panda's Board of Directors, which includes flying to Thailand to meet with the company's reclusive founder. The book has its problems: most of its characters are two-dimensional, and the book sometimes reads like a novelized manual for the enlightened CEO. Hurley can be unsubtle in revealing background information. Still, I liked The Interview. The story is entertaining, and I was impressed with the author's ability to keep readers interested during the long stretch before bullets start to fly.

Comments

1.

Pity about the title!

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