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Saturday, March 15, 2008

Reading Notes : The CEO by Peter Ralph

Let's see how this goes. I've been jotting down a few notes, thoughts, what have you while I've been reading lately. I'll throw them out there for you, perhaps it might help you to decide whether you want to read it yourself.

The CEO is the second novel by Peter Ralph, his first being Collins Street Whores (published by SidHarta Books).

Here is a crime novel that was released in 2007 by small publisher Melbourne Books to little or no fanfare. I managed to track down a copy a couple of weeks ago and have a very enjoyable time reading about the high-powered, dirty dealing and outright greed emanating from a large company's CEO.

This is a book that is worth tracking down for the outrageous behaviour of Douglas Aspine, the clever wheelings and dealings that are carried out and the brilliant case of poetic justice that marks the ending.

I'll take one quote out of the book that describes the main character, Douglas Aspine to a tee:

He's an overbearing bully, earning a fortune to tear a company to pieces, in the
name of downsizing and profit. He's a typical CEO.

We first meet Douglas Aspine as he walks into his bank hoping to extend a personal loan. He's already in debt to the eyeballs and his $400,000 salary just isn't stretching far enough to meet his expenses. Unsurprisingly, the loan application is flatly refused and he's left with a seething resentment towards the bank officer who refused him and a burning need to pick up one of the many CEO positions for which he has applied.

Surprise, surprise, one of the applications is successful and suddenly, Douglas Aspine's future looks does his personal wealth. In a move that is typically Douglas Aspine's he immediately rubs his success in the noses of i) his former boss who'd just sacked him and, 2) the bank loans officer.

Aspine then proceeds to methodically screw over every single person he comes in contact with as he seeks to ensure that his bank balance will be as fat as possible. The line of enemies he makes for himself includes his company board, his secretary, his mistress, his wife, his stockbroker, his children, his former bank manager.

In fact, when it comes time to try to decide exactly who is going to seek revenge on the bastard, we're spoilt for choice. How Peter Ralph chooses to do it is inspired, it must be said.


Paul said...

After reading Damien's comments I went looking for The CEO and none of the mainstream bookstores in the Melbourne suburbs had it. I eventually bought it at Readings and it was worth the trouble.

It is different to other novels in that the main character is the anti-hero, and is so evil, manipulative, without morals or conscience, that you can't put it down, as chapter after chapter he performs more sinister deeds. Peter Ralph comes up with a great and totally unexpected ending, that does not disappoint, but also cleverly opens up the way for a sequel.

It's great to read an Australian business themed suspense novel and more particularly one set in Melbourne, and it's pity the mainstream bookstores do not appear to be carrying it. It is a first rate business suspense novel, written in the style of John Grisham, which I suspect is largely based on fact. No prizes for guessing who Mike Lizard really is, if you substitute a V for the L.

Damien said...

Hi Paul

I think you've summed up The CEO perfectly, particularly Aspine. It would be nice if Peter Ralph were more widely lauded for this book.

And yes, I picked a few thinly disguised names out of the story too.


Anonymous said...

Yes, the CEO is a great read about an absolutely horrendous man without any redeeming qualities. I'm sure a lot of it is based off fact which is scary when you think about it. I certainly learnt a lot about business, stockbrokers and white collar crooks. I tried to buy one of Ralph's other books, Collins Street Whores, but unfortunately it is out of print. From the name the theme sounds the same though?

gumbles said...

As a professional investor I found this excellent reading. Douglas Aspin is a neat amalgam of a range of dodgy CEOs that I've come across and is almost an exact example "how to" if you wish to be sincerely rich at all cost leaving you with no friends, no family, and no...well that'd spoil the story...suffice to say there's an excellent ending that is nealty packaged up. Peter Ralph's created a impossible-to-put-down read. I'm buying a half dozen copies for Christmas presents.

Anonymous said...

It'd be nice if they proofread the book though. Take just page 52 as an example: "sandles" for sandals, "the alcohol seemed to have no affect". Never mind the commas in all the wrong places. And by the way English is my second language!