Author: James J. Kaufman
Publisher: Downstream Publishing
Review of Arc Copy
James J. Kauman's The Conciliators, the third tome in 'The Collectible' series starts off with a good hook involving a white collar crime where a bank is part of a fraudlent scheme with two New York executives, a developer and the chief financial officer of an auto dealer. All of this makes for good reading and should sustain our curiosity, however, unfortunately, somewhere along the way Kaufman wanders and goes off on a tangent inserting scenes and subplots that don't serve any purpose other than extend the yarn far beyond what is necessary.
In the prologue Kaufman introduces one of his principal characters, Preseton Wilson, an icon of a businessman who started with one auto dealership and built it into a series of stores around the USA. Upon reading the morning newspaper, Preston notices a story that was picked up from the Twin Forks Press via the Associated Press concerning collusion between the Bank of North America's real estate department and a developer of residential lots in Long Island. Although, his name does not appear anywhere, Preston's company's is mentioned thanks to a very close old prep school friend and now Chief Financial Officer of the company, Austin Disley, who is implicated in the crime.
The story doesn't carry a by-line, however, if it had, the journalist would have turned out to be Prestons' daughter, Katherine Kelly, who incidentally, was born out of wedlock as a result of a one night stand that Preston had with her mother. What is more, he was never informed of her existence until she was twenty-three. As a matter of fact, he would never have forgotten the last conversation with his daughter who was in quite a dilemma and who had confessed to her father that she had written a story and was not sure if she should turn it in as Preston's CFO is in a great deal of trouble. The consequences would be that Preston's company, Wilson Holdings, would feel the impact and possibly bring down the company.
To fast forward, Preston is named as an unindicted co-conspirator by the FBI, which is very often a tactic used to place someone in a position that would cause him to have no choice but to cooperate and perhaps force him to become a witness for the prosecution or to discourage him to become a witness for the defense. It could also be used to convince someone to just give up and plead guilty. It is a nasty procedure even though the party involved may not even be guilty. And consider this, the label remains over your head until you die.
Complicating matters is that Katherine is involved in a personal relationship with an uncover FBI agent who is tapping her phone line and who is interested in finding out what she knows about some ruthless Russian Mafia members involved in the bank fraud. Apropos, due to a possible conflict of interest, Katherine decides to refrain from becoming more involved in the story and decides to work with a co- journalist from another newspaper concerning a white collar crime that has taken place in the Hamptons.
This all makes for a good thriller until Kaufman goes astray and sticks in a mishmash of secondary plots including a life threatening accident involving Preston's wife, Katherine's second writing assignment in the Hamptons, which is never fully developed, and love relationships pertaining to various characters. And it is only until the final chapters that we get back on track with to the original story-line. Perhaps, if these separate stories were better related and interwoven into the principal plot, I would feel differently, however, such was not the case.