17th November 2021.
This is the eighth book in the excellent Jeri Howard series and one of the best as the private investigator turns her attention to the world of corporate takeovers and asset stripping. Her latest client, Rob, pays her a retainer and promises to return with further information as he prepares to blow the whistle on Bates Foods, the company he works for.
Unfortunately, two days later, he falls from the fifth floor balcony of his apartment block and dies. Did he jump or was he pushed? In order to investigate, Jeri wangles a temp job as a secretary to the legal team at the company and starts to dip into the shady world of corporate management.
It’s a skilfully told story that contains the usual level of detail I’ve come to expect from this author. When Jeri uncovers issues with salmonella, listeria and food poisoning in dairy products, she has a lead she can get her teeth into. From here, it’s a case of pulling together all the facts she’s uncovered and working out the killer.
She’s never sure who she can trust as all the key players have something to hide, while each day she risks having her cover blown.
I found the ending particularly moving as the company who made the hostile takeover starts to unravel. Add this to Jeri moving into a new house and finding an army of friends turning up to help her, it bodes well for the next book in the series.
If you haven’t tried this murder mystery series before, go read the first in a series that tackles all manner of topical and testing issues from the 1980s.
HOW HOSTILE CAN A TAKEOVER GET? MURDER MOST CORPORATE!
Oakland sleuth Jeri Howard is the whole package: a traditional gumshoe who’s no stranger to the all-night stakeout, the deft, disarming blow to the hand holding the gun, or the methodical examination of documents and official records – and secret hiding places – that leads to where all the bodies are buried in a supremely hostile takeover.
Jeri’s newest client was poised to blow the whistle on a large food manufacturer just before he took a header out his fifth-floor apartment window. One catch – he hadn’t yet told her what it was about. Jeri’s already cashed his retainer check, and her heart goes out to the teenagers to whom he was The World’s Best Uncle – plus she’s pretty sure he had some assistance out the window, and the police agree. So she suits up, dusts off her formidable legal secretary skills, and goes undercover in the gray cubicles of his former office.
The locally-owned business, built with painstaking care over decades and managed with integrity by the founder and then by his children, has become unstable and corrupt. Morale is through the floor, and the place is so squirmy with viperous corporate raiders it’s tough to know what rock to look under.
Jeri just needs to get them all in one room and let all the secrets slither out in the kind of immensely satisfying corporate implosion that every cube farm resident fantasizes about—and every mystery reader loves.