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Friday, May 3, 2013

Deal Killer, by Neal Sanders

Neal Sanders is an author whose mystery books not only pose a puzzle, but offer an insider's view of ordinary worlds not always known to all ordinary people. His earlier murder mysteries enticed readers to reflect on the many facets of running a gardening club, involving social/economic changes in small towns, and personal interactions between generations.

Deal Killer invites us into the executive boardrooms of competing industrial plants, introducing us to a host of characters ranging from 'woodchucks' (or 'go-fers' in other arenas) to CEOs (chief executive officers)and bank accountants, project managers, Boston Irish Mobsters to, to New Hampshire state troopers (in a different light than in his Hardington stories.) His settings range from the woods of New Hampshire to large chain hotels in the small city of Nashua, to the famous Boston Fanueil Hall Marketplace and to the back rooms of a bar in South Boston.

What is not different from his earlier works is his ability to build strong characters with deceptive ease, allowing his readers to understand each player's individual motivations and values. By using interactions and conversations between his people to show the power plays behind the scenes, the complexity of what may be seen by the uninvolved public as a simple transfer of ownership, and the stakes involved in personal investment of loyalty, commitment and dedication to an employer's goals and dreams, Sanders educates us and entertains us without distracting us from the hanging question of 'who dun-it' as the chapters unfold.

With a strong female protagonist cast in a mousy persona and secondary seat at the table, to the deceptively benign posture of the head of a corporation ... and in a beautiful blonde's predictable guile balanced by her focused intelligence and resourcefulness, Sanders quietly establishes the truth about not judging people by their outward appearances, their occupational identities, or their public facades.

After reading this story, it's unlikely that one would ever look again at a corporate buy-out story in a newspaper as "just business." The threads of this story are as seamlessly, purposely woven as the most obscure pattern in a story of old... a story that concludes with the right thing being accomplished by just the right person, for the right people.
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