The Bottom Line: A perfectly crafted conspiracy thriller with a truly noble hero at its core, The Deadly Deal is the twisty tale we’ve been waiting for.
The Deadly Deal is the story of an ordinary man whose life is suddenly turned upside down by a vast conspiracy he can scarcely comprehend.
As the novel begins, Pharma exec David Centrelli is under pressure to deliver a major deal that the company’s CEO and its investors are personally counting on. The consequences of not coming through could mean the end of his career at the firm. The young hotshot seems confident, but is still humble enough to feel like he’s sitting at the big boys’ table.
Just two hours later, the must-win deal is the very last thing on his mind. After learning that his best friend and his wife are dead – apparently victims of an apartment fire – he tells his employer that he needs to take time off.
But he’ll have no time to grieve. Shortly afterwards, Anne Halavity, whom David has never seen in his life, forces him to go with her at gunpoint. And once they’re alone, Anna reveals a bombshell: his friends didn’t die in a fire. And it wasn’t by accident.
That’s just the start of David’s troubles. What comes next is a blistering tangle of blackmail and threats. Meanwhile, the CEO at David’s company is being muscled by some corporate gangsters. For reasons not yet clear to him, they want David dead.
Author J Lee’s spare, dialogue-driven style is a perfect vehicle for this fast-paced thriller. Lee gives us just enough background, told largely through dialogue, to make us care quickly and deeply for his hero.
Whether intentional or not, David is every bit a contemporary Job. For those not familiar with the ancient story, Job is an upstanding, noble well-to-do member of society until life as he knows it collapses suddenly. Like a bolt out of the blue, his sheep, servants and ten children all die due to seemingly random acts of humanity or God. It’s a test, of course, and one that has everything to do with the way he handles adversity.
Likewise, David is young, successful and has a long history of altruistic behavior. While not without a few skeletons in his closet, he recently saved a girl who needed a double lung transplant with a generous anonymous donation, was President of the Big Brother/Little Brother chapter, and in November of his senior year in high school, saved two kids who fell into a frozen pond. In a world filled with anti-heroes, Lee’s David is the protagonist we all need right now.
But faced with seemingly insurmountable threats, does David have what it takes to prevail? In an ingenious twist on the classic tale, Lee puts an additional burden upon his hero: David isn’t merely fighting for his own life. He’ll soon learn that millions of lives depend on his success.