“The Switch”

the switch

“The Switch” by Joseph Finder is a political thriller that starts simply enough with an “accident” that could happen to anyone. Michael Tanner is going through the hassles of the TSA checkpoint at LAX. He grabs his laptop and rushes to his gate. When he returns to his coffee business in Boston, he discovers that his laptop, the one that contains his important coffee business information, is gone, and he has picked up someone else’s laptop; (they all do look alike after all). While the laptop is password protected, he finds the password written on a sticky note. (I think many of us can relate to that as well). Unfortunately, when he powers on the laptop and types in the password, he finds that this laptop belongs to a U.S. senator.

The senator is extremely distressed about misplacing her laptop because she has unauthorized copies of top-secret documents on it. (Not mishandling top-secret information OH NO!) She has to quietly and quickly get it back. The action for the rest of the book moves back and forth between the two computer owners, each trying to find the other in order to get his or her own laptop back. One has way more motivation and way more resources than the other does.

Whom does the average citizen call when he finds top-secret information? The press, of course.  And whom does someone in government call when top-secret information is missing? The Russians, and the mob of course. (If you don’t believe me, just read the newspaper.) You see where this is going.

This book is filled with lots of characters, all of whom are self-serving, arrogant,  shortsighted, egotistical, power-hungry, crazy people. Why couldn’t they just trade laptops like normal people would? (Of course, then there wouldn’t be this great novel. ) I recognize all these people immediately from newspapers and TV. I can identify them because Finder  developed their personalities in such a complete and complex way, that I really could pick out several of each of them in “real” life.

Finder overlaps chapters throughout the book, beginning one chapter a short time before the previous one ends and continuing the action from another participant’s point of view. This puts every action into question. One never really knows who is telling the truth and who is not. The “good guys” and the “bad guys” switch places several times as the body count grows and tensions rise. It is a dance where little slip-ups can be fatal. Even the end is really not the end.

The book is summed up in this quote early in the book  from  a woman at a D.C. party:

“The difference between God and a U.S. senator? God doesn’t think he is a senator”

I was given a copy of “The Switch” book by Joseph Finder, Penguin Publishing Group, and NetGalley. I usually don’t read political thrillers because I get that every night on TV, but this one was compelling,  electrifying, and oh so realistic. I couldn’t put it down.