The Candidate by Daniel Pembrey
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
After reading The Woman Who Stopped Traffic, also by Daniel Pembrey, I was pleased to see his Novella, The Candidate available for request on Net Galley. I received this ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Nick Thorneycroft is surprised when he wakes up one morning in his Luxembourg apartment to find a woman's underwear in his room. He has no recollection of how the underwear got there, nor does he have any memory of sharing the night with a woman.
His attention is diverted to his job where he is a recruiter for the Russia and Eastern Europe section of his company. Nick finds candidates to fill open positions within the company. His former girlfriend, Claire, is the person responsible for getting Nick to accept this job as a head hunter. Before this, Nick was a temp recruiter and sports writer. The subject of his efforts currently is a woman named Yekaterina Novakovich. It's Nick's job to get Yekaterina to work for his company, but she also has another offer open with a competing company. Nick has to persuade her to work for his group and forget the other offer. There are rumors that a company called Xanant, owned by the Russian state, is trying to buy out Nick's company, but he is to proceed without taking into consideration how that rumor will affect his business should it turn out to be true.
The story goes on from here to take Nick deeper and deeper into events he doesn't understand. He can't seem to connect with Yekaterina to have her interview, the people he works with seem to be watching him and perhaps plotting against him, and Claire, his former girlfriend, shows up now and then confusing Nick further about what their relationship really is.
This is a Novella which by definition means it is a shorter version of a book. While the format does work for the telling of this story, I think it may have worked even better as a full length novel. There were details that could have been included to make the story a bit easier to follow; however, I have to say that by presenting it in this form, the ending packed more of a punch than it may have with more details. I think Pembrey chooses intricate subjects upon which he weaves his stories, and because of that, fleshing out a few more details within these subjects would be helpful to the reader. However, Pembrey certainly does know how to write an ending that is both satisfying and surprising. I will be watching for more of this talented writer in the future. In my opinion, Pembrey is a writer from whom we'll be seeing much more.
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