Friday, January 3, 2014

This Is Rage:A Novel of Silicon Valley and Other Madness, by Ken Goldstein

The Story Plant, ISBN 9781611880717, October 2013

Venture capitalist Daniel Steyer is holding a garden party at his house when it's crashed by two would-be Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, Sam Kisinski and his cousin, Dennis Swerlow. Their clever plan is to kidnap Steyer and hold him for a ransom payoff that will let them start their own company in Shanghai. As criminals, though, they barely qualify as amateurs, and in the resulting chaos, they injure Steyer, kill a banker--and kidnap Calvin Choy and Stephen Finkelman, co-CEOs of Steyer's most successful bet ever, EnvisionInk.

As the kidnappers and their captives hole up in a small hospital (because Finkelman was badly injured), surrounded by police and FBI, a has-been radio host, Kimo Balthazar, stumbles on the story, and a chance to revive his career.

From there, things start to get really strange.

EnvisionInk seems strangely more interested in negotiating a merger deal with Atom Heart Entertainment than in negotiating the release of their co-CEOs. Swerlow and Kisinski know what they want--their own start-up in Shanghai--but have absolutely no idea how to get from where they are to what they want. A Montana congresswoman thinks she can milk the crisis not just to re-election but to the Presidency, especially once workers start walking off the job in protest against mergers and their inevitable layoffs to "cut costs."

And Kimo Balthazar, with fading dreams of being a liberal Rush Limbaugh, finds himself at the center of the swirling forces, glimpsing a chance to advance both his career and his beliefs.

I'm not doing justice to the story. None of the characters are caricatures or clowns; every significant character has depth. The issues of economic growth, innovation, and fairness to the employees who actually produce all that productivity but are viewed mainly as costs by investors are quite real and painful.

It's a fast-paced novel with an ending is not at all obvious until the very end.


Bonus extra! This Is Rage will be featured as part of the Barnes & Noble Nook Blog Free Fridays sale. Included books this week are:

Love Thy Neighbor by Mark Gilleo (free)
This Is Rage by Ken Goldstein ($1.99)
From the Ashes by Jeremy Burns ($1.99)
The Eighth Day by Tom Avitabile ($1.99)
The Fifth Man by James LePore ($1.99)
Back From the Dead by Peter Leonard ($1.99)
The Shepherd by Ethan Cross ($1.99)

Book trailer

I received a free electronic galley from the publisher via NetGalley.

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