Premise: Will Connelly has a successful career as a corporate attorney in San Francisco. He is expecting to be made partner when one morning a colleague plummets to his death from the building roof right in front of his window, and Will replaces him the lead attorney for a major merger between two large technology companies. The opportunity to work on this merger could have some huge implications for Will’s career, especially for his chances of making partner.
But Will’s life is turned upside down when he is the prime murder suspect in his colleague’s death, being investigated by the SEC for insider trading related to the merger, threatened by Russian mafia, and caught up in a terrorist plot to hurt hundreds or even thousands of people. It all revolves around his knowledge between these two companies and their involvement with national security. It is up to Will to make sure the information these companies hold doesn’t fall into the wrong hands.
Themes: The Insider is primarily a legal thriller with elements of murder mystery and political intrigue. From the beginning Will’s colleague falls from a building and he is instantly plunged into a murder investigation. But when he is thrown into the middle of an increasingly dangerous situation with organized crime elements and terrorists, Will learns that there is more to the merger he is working on than first expected.
Will quickly learns that there are few people he can trust through the murder and insider trading investigations with the threats on his life and he mounting pressure to work with the authorities and admit everything that is entering his life with the Russian mafia and their connections to known terrorists. Even his most trusted coworkers could turn on him at any moment.
Pros: There are many facets to The Insider that make it interesting. Not only is there the murder mystery, but there is the peril constantly plaguing the protagonist, with criminal investigations of insider trading, organized crime, and terrorists. Reece Hirsch has created some interesting characters with flaws that make them pretty realistic. There are some very descriptive action scenes that really move the story along, especially as it pertains to the pacing of the story. There is one scene that was quite cringe-worthy involving Will, the Russians, and a box cutter.
Cons: One of my biggest gripes with The Insider is that it has too much telling instead of showing. Some of the decisions that Will makes are just not very intelligent. The problems are compounded mostly by Will not taking action when he should, such as the box cutter scene where I almost shouted out loud, “Why would you get in the car with them?” His immoral choices of drinking too much and seeking a one night stand only get him into deep trouble. At times Reece Hirsch manages to paint a lawyer in good light, but mostly fulfills the stereotype of them having no conscience or compunction. He also makes the implication that most law enforcement are corrupt, as just about every one of them seem to only be looking to convict Will.
Recommendations: As a debut novel, The Insider has a lot to offer. I was surprised by how well The Insider kept my attention even when I thought the protagonist was making horrible decisions. Reece Hirsch’s debut novel has good characters and some solid action, but the narrative has a little too much telling instead of showing. The pacing is pretty quick and there are some surprises along the way that make this a legal thriller worth a shot for those looking for something by someone other than Grisham.