Some years ago I read Matthew Klein’s Conned, a slick thriller narrated by a skilled confidence trickster. Its a very good book that keeps you guessing right to the end. I was very excited when I heard that Klein had, at last, written another novel.
‘No Way Back’ is a faster, more visceral thrill than Conned. Jimmy Thane is a washed up CEO. A meth addict and alcoholic paying a visit to the last chance saloon. Through a friend he has been hired to save ailing IT firm Tao Software. Success will rebuild his reputation and save his marriage, but the task is far greater than he imagined.
The product he’s selling doesn’t work. His sales team are incompetent, his head of marketing hates him and there’s a giant hole in the company accounts. If that wasn’t bad enough, the previous CEO has disappeared without trace. Jimmy thinks he must have embezzled the cash and done a runner, but when he starts looking into his predecessor’s dealings, he soon finds links to a terrifying Russian gangster.
No Way Back is so very nearly the perfect thriller, but I think Klein may have concentrated too hard on the big twist, and taken his eyes off keeping everything credible. Where Conned oozed authenticity, No Way Back is brash and far-fetched.
I really enjoyed reading the set-up. It’s well-written; pacy and witty. There is lots going on and Klein drip feeds peculiarities into Jimmy’s story, keeping intrigue and tension levels up high. Unfortunately he couldn’t quite sustain it. As the body count mounts (often brutally), I started to question, what could possibly be worth that much death? When the answer came, I still wasn’t convinced. Worse still the denouement is illogical. Klein attempted a twist as audacious as that in ‘The Usual Suspects’, unfortunately he only found suspect.
To explain why would completely ruin the novel, so I’m afraid you’re just going to have to take my word for it. It’s a shame, as until that point, Klein had delivered a first class thriller. Despite the slightly dodgy ending, No Way Back is still entertaining fiction, packed with great ideas and snappy dialogue. It’s a light read; a compelling escapist thriller, perfect for reading on the beach or passing time at the airport.
Many thanks to Corinna at Corvus Books for my copy of this book