“Once you commit an act contrary to the laws of society, it’s easy for people to think you’ll do it again, or do something even worse.” – Kip Cross
Iris Thorne doesn’t go looking for trouble, but somehow it always seems to find the young financial adviser. Foolproof, the fourth entry in author Dianne Emley’s Iris Thorne series, finds Iris trying to settle into her position as branch manager for LA based McKinney Alitzer and tackle the task of being a first-time homeowner. If only those were her biggest headaches.
Already working to help her friend Bridget Cross and her husband, Kip, navigate the choppy waters of taking their successful online gaming company Pandora public, things take a dramatic turn when Bridget is shot dead in her mansion’s backyard. Turns out Kip wasn’t keen on the idea of the company going public, which quickly rockets him to the top of the suspect list.
Complicating matters even further, Bridget’s murder was witnessed by the couple’s five-year-old daughter, Brianna, whom Bridget named as the heir to her majority stake in Pandora, with Iris named as the administrator of Brianna’s trust. This puts Iris in the crosshairs of everyone from Kip, who wants the company kept private, to corporate raider T. Duke Sawyer, who wants to buy the company out for a lowball offer given Kip’s legal troubles, to Pandora’s top employees, who are split on which direction they want the company to go. And someone is determined to get their way on the issue, even if it’s over Iris’s dead body.
As she mentioned in her guest post yesterday, Emley did a tremendous amount of research before writing Foolproof. One of the dangers of an author doing significant research on a project is they sometimes feel the need to use every scrap of information they learned, which runs the risk of turning their book into an information dump instead of a novel. Fortunately Emley deftly sidesteps that pitfall, seamlessly working fascinating details about online gaming, especially first-person shooters, into the narrative (remember, this was relatively new in the late 90’s). Similar information about investment banking and venture capital is introduced through both the plot angle with T. Duke Sawyer as well as some inter-office backstabbing Iris has to deal with at McKinney Alitzer.
With every book since her introduction in Cold Call Iris has grown as a character, showing herself to be more complicated than her flashy exterior initially belies. Though she could easily wash her hands of the Pandora mess – and get herself out of the crosshairs – by simply giving Sawyer what he wants, Iris takes her responsibility to carry out Bridget’s wishes, both to take Pandora public and do the right thing for Brianna’s financial future, quite seriously. She’s also a loyal person, and her interactions with Kip are particularly gripping as Iris struggles to give her friend the benefit of the doubt…easier said than done given the evidence against him and his increasingly erratic behavior.
Though not quite as strong as some of the previous entries in the series from a pure plot point of view, there is one subplot which could arguably be removed entirely without changing the overall feel of the story, Foolproof is nevertheless another entertaining adventure in the always complicated life of Iris Thorne.