From the dust cover: “Jack Caufield never imagined that he would wake up one day and find a dead woman in his bed. That sort of thing wasn’t supposed to happen to guys like him. He was on his way to law school, but instead of fielding Socratic questions from law professors, he finds himself facing the third degree from a bunch of angry cops. Despite their efforts, they find nothing incriminating, and Jack is allowed to get on with his education and his life. Over the next fifteen years, he becomes a modestly successful corporate lawyer, a well-paid but insignificant cog in the Wall Street machine. He’s resigned to playing a disappointing role in the system that he has come to disdain, until he learns that his encounter with that unlucky girl may not have been coincidental. Confronted with the possibility that the men who run the prestigious financial institution that he now represents may have been involved in a shocking conspiracy, his search for the truth is complicated by the knowledge that discovering it could cost him the success that he’s spent his life chasing.”
About the author: “Bob Waldner was born and raised in New Jersey, before heading off to Duke University and the University of Michigan Law School. He practices law in New York, where he lives with his wife, Erinn, and his daughters Maureen and Madeleine. Someday, he hopes to figure out what he wants to be when he grows up.”
My Ebook review: the author describes in his acknowledgements that “Peripheral Involvement” took a very long time to write. Interestingly, the book itself also covers a long timeframe and in a sense felt like more than one story pushed together until the subtlety of the plot plays out and the big picture comes into delightful focus.
Caufield is a splendid character who somehow feels like he is a passenger in his own life story. Occasionally he lifts his head up and makes a clear and rational choice to give direction to his life and yet at most other times he is happy to go where the wind blows him and to take advantage of the adventures that life puts in his way. Watching his evolution, we are able to consider our own choices, what would we have chosen given the circumstances and could we have managed to get the job done when it counted.
Caufield is not only a fine character to read but a vehicle for communicating a number of salient facts about life that are often not understood or appreciated until too late, life hacks as they are sometimes described. I very much appreciated his dialogues and insightful critique of various important structures and could feel an inner turmoil seething sometimes below and once in a while above the surface. Caufield’s ultimate choices fitted consistently with his deepest character.
The greater plot is fabulous as it unfolds in various degrees of complexity and with a neat cast of characters set against a nicely described background. There is a sense of the slightly incredible but plausible about the story which drags one in and keeps the pages flying past.
Did I enjoy the reading experience?: Clearly yes, there was a gripping plot, a cast of intriguing characters, insightful almost philosophical discussions and a mystery. I just hope that the next one does not take so long!