Author: Ron Felber
Publisher: Barricade Books
ISBN: 978-1-56980-490-2
 

A Man Of Indeterminate Value is a big boys adventure story. Big girls might like it as well. I did.  Jack Madsen, the main character in Ron Felber’s corporate thriller, hates his wife, the company he works for and the lifestyle he has to lead to keep his debt ridden existence from spiraling into a vortex which doesn’t have an exit sign. I did though, find it hard to empathise with Jack’s disgust with corporate corruption; somehow it didn’t seem appropriate for him to pontificate about corporate raiders that buy profitable businesses, strip them of everything of  value, sack the workforce then move on to another dirty deal when he was stealing patents from the company he works for and selling them to a Hong Kong middleman to fund his ‘life after death’ bank account.

While not a man of great moral fibre, Jack is intelligent and something deep within his psyche tells him he has to make a break from a loveless marriage with a wife, Jennifer, who spitefully maxes out credit cards to keep him chained to a job he detests.  Jennifer’s father, a retired judge with links to the Mafia, Jack knows that escaping both his wife and father-in-law won’t be easy but he has to do it or surrender to drug fuelled despair. 

Jack’s escape route? He will plan his own death at sea ensuring that although his body isn’t found, the yacht he is solo sailing in stormy weather will be - an accidental death scenario accepted by his wife, the cops and anybody else that matters. Jennifer and his small daughter will be provided for by a 5 mil insurance policy payable on his death. Meanwhile, Jack will be far away in Mexico living on the profits from the stolen patents.

A Man Of Indeterminate Value is written in a slick genre style; not a bad thing as it’s really exciting and the slickness reflects Jack’s life of expense account funded sex, booze and drugs – work interrupting the parties and the prostitutes. Ron Felber is a visually graphic writer and it’s not hard to believe that similar to his television series ‘Mob Doctor’, A Man Of Indeterminate Value will also be filmed. 

The story starts at the end – Jack has been shot and seeks sanctuary with the Catholic Brothers at the school he attended as a teenager. After he stage managed his death, things didn’t always go as planned and Jack is sure he is being pursued by Phials, the insurance assessor assigned to investigate whether his accidental death was faked. The Brothers supply Jack with a computer and sure Phials is only one step behind, he types the story of his fraudulent death and the actions he took to begin a new life.

The back story unfolds and the reader learns that while Jack’s death didn’t go off without a hitch or three, his plan to disappear in Mexico works. Not a good judge of character, the guy Jack relied on to move his money into foreign bank accounts double-crosses him. Beaten up and near penniless, Jack doesn’t have any option but to return to the US and with his hot babe girlfriend in toe, try his luck at stealing another patent from the company where he had previously been employed.

Jack’s narrative with asides to Phials is a suspenseful, gripping tale with unexpected twists which kept me turning pages really fast.

As seems to be the norm for Jack, the end of his story doesn’t turn out as expected but it does leave the way open for another Jack Madsen thriller -  A Man Of Indeterminate Value was an exciting fun read, like to read the next in the series.


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