THE SUCCESSOR is quite different from Stephen Frey's previous books
featuring financial kingpin Christian Gillette. Unlike its
predecessors, THE SUCCESSOR focuses more on political intrigue and
less on the shadowy world of finance. At first this may confound
longtime Frey fans, but ultimately they will be pleasantly
The book kicks off with Gillette being called to meet with U.S.
President Jesse Wood. As readers of THE POWER BROKER will recall,
the men have a history; Wood initially had offered Gillette the
vice-presidential slot only to later withdraw the opportunity.
Gillette, however, is pragmatic enough not to hold a grudge and
accordingly positions himself to receive an offer that, if
anything, is more exciting than the vice-presidency. Word has
reached Wood that Cuban premier Fidel Castro is dead and that plans
are already afoot in Cuba to install a government friendly to the
interests of the United States. Wood wants Gillette to meet with
the men in Cuba who are surreptitiously planning the new government
and to give the plan either his approval or his condemnation.
Subplots abound. There is a group of power brokers who want the
President's plan to succeed so they can bring him down. A
down-and-out Oscar winner has been hired to worm her way into
Gillette's life, apparently in order to keep track of his
whereabouts. And a deadly, somewhat bent assassin is trailing
Gillette, retained by an unknown principal who is about to discover
that the leash the assassin is on may not be short enough.
Meanwhile, Gillette is torn between his professional life managing
Everest Capital and his personal life, which is practically
nonexistent. He has picked his protégé, Allison Wallace,
as his successor in business and yearns to have her as his partner
in life as well. But can Gillette mix his professional and personal
lives with the same aplomb as he does mega-corporations? This novel
answers that question and more, even as it creates new ones.
THE SUCCESSOR may well be the last of the Gillette novels; if not,
then future installments undoubtedly will be far different from
what has gone before. The conclusion may be a bit rushed, but it's
fascinating, leaving several unexpected resolutions and the promise
of new and different worlds. The one sure thing is that Frey is a
talented and unpredictable storyteller who, after more than a dozen
novels, is still worth reading.
Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on January 23, 2011