It gives me great pleasure to push the boundaries of this series to include, not only a stunning journey thorough the business district of Melbourne, Australia, but to also take readers into the twisted corridors of the corporate boardroom. I’m not sure how I discovered Peter Ralph’s novel, The CEO, but the moment I finished reading it, I knew I wanted Peter to write a piece for this series.
So, without further ado, take it away, Peter.
Francis, the offer to appear on your blog is extremely kind. Many thanks.
Real life business events are the inspiration for my novels. I change the characters, embellish the facts, add a degree of violence and suspense and voila . . . a story.
I have a heavy background in business. Eons ago I was a chartered accountant specializing in corporate reconstructions and recoveries. Part of this job involved spending literally hundreds of hours in the Supreme and Federal Courts as a ‘supposed’ expert witness. Sounds exciting, huh? It wasn’t as I was rarely ever called as the vast majority of these cases were settled or determined by deals worked out by the respective barristers. What was great though, was that I got to listen to the great legal minds of that time. I spent hours in their chambers mainly listening but in some cases advising them on particular issues and drafting affidavits. There are very few lawyers who would’ve been exposed to the same level of expertise and naturally I learnt a little on the way.
I then became CEO of a large private company. (and no, I wasn’t ‘The CEO’) With this background it’s very easy for me to write business related novels including those about white collar crime.
The CEO, is a conglomeration of every bad CEO that I have ever known or met. Douglas Aspine is 45 and desperate to attain a CEO’s position when death deals him a lucky card and he is appointed to run an underperforming, staid, asset rich company. He has one driving ambition and that is to massively enrich himself, and he has absolutely no scruples about how he is going to do it. This a man who doesn’t have second thoughts or any compassion about sacking twenty-per cent of the company’s workforce, cheating on his wife and children, defrauding his employer, lying to the stock exchange and his co-directors, reneging on promises, and hitting on any female employees that take his fancy. Each chapter of this novel is written in such a way as to pique the reader’s interest as to whether Aspine can get any worse and in each ensuing chapter he doesn’t disappoint, going from being totally unlikeable to unbelievably despicable. He wields enormous power and it is hard to see him ever getting his just desserts.
The CEO and Dirty Fracking Business, were published by Melbourne Books. The owner has become a good friend of mine and he is a fine publisher. That having been said, I will never again use a publisher. Not because I dislike them or bear them any ill-well. It’s just that I can earn far more self-publishing with Amazon. The CEO and Collins Street Whores were never published in e-book form so I took it upon myself to do so. What a revelation. I never imagined or guessed the complexities and benefits of the Amazon website or for that matter how lucrative it could be. I’m still learning and have been exposed to so many great books via e-book marketing.
My Five –Star Review of The CEO
A totally captivating read – I couldn’t put it down.
I literally held my breath through a good third of, The CEO. The author plunged me into a world I know next to nothing about (the boardroom and backroom goings on off corporate finance) and inside the mind of a man who could well have been the devil’s incarnate, wearing an expensive three-piece suit and racing around the streets of Melbourne in a red Ferreira.
Though I am uneducated when it comes to the wheeling and dealing of the upper echelon of corporate executive officers, Ralph made the going a breeze with his wealth of detail put forth in clear, easy prose. Now, if that wasn’t challenge enough, he manages the feat while never losing sight of the fact that he’s telling a story and the humanity he endows his characters with is never lacking.
We watch Ralph’s main character, Douglas Aspine, wrack havoc in the lives of most everyone he encounters. He amasses huge sums of money and moves it effortlessly around the globe from one highly sheltered account to another. Nothing fazes this guy, no amount of pressure or short-term stumbling block gets in his way. His single-mindedness and confidence in his own ability to pull off just about anything becomes totally enthralling. It is like watching a train headed full-speed towards the end of the tracks that just happen to hang over a deep ravine while the engineer drinks a cup of coffee and causally reads a newspaper. You simply can’t drag your eyes away.
Though self-centered and self-serving to the core, Ralph does let us see ever-so-slight glimpses of what’s left of Aspine’s conscience and in this way saves his main character from becoming a complete caricature of evil. He warns his son to be careful travelling in South-East Asia, the drug laws and penalties imposed for breaking those laws are not to be taken lightly. Aspine feels remorse and guilt for his baser sexual behaviour.
What I found most fascinating was the ways in which the weaknesses of the people around Aspine were so easily manipulated. This isn’t a simple morality tale or story of black and white, good and bad, though upon first glimpse it may seem so. Aspine turns out to be just one marker on a whole continuum of greed and amorality.
The ending, which after a certain point begins to seem inevitable, and may in fact satisfy many readers, left me unwilling to think that all was well. Perhaps the obligation to do the right thing should not rest on how deserving or undeserving the recipient of that action might be.
The CEO is a totally captivating book and I suspect most readers will bite the hook, be drawn in and not be able to put the book down until the final page has been turned.
So, there you have it – the corporate boardroom, a dramatic setting every bit as gripping as any landscape location. Visit Peter over at his website: Corporate Thrillers. Check out his Facebook Author Page. And do pop over to Amazon and read the reviews for The CEO.