Richard Hine's novel Russell Wiley is Out to Lunch was on the Amazon monthly Kindle deals earlier this summer and I took a chance on it.
Protagonist, Russell Wiley is in his mid-thirties and his life is falling apart. He is stuck in a loveless marriage and his career, as an executive at a major newspaper, has an expiration date. Wiley is a desperate man surrounded by desperate people. His coworkers are ruthless, each trying to stay one-step ahead of lay-offs and Wiley must manage them, while trying to keep his own head off of the chopping block. He can't figure out how to fix his marriage and his home life has become unbearable. He is even beginning to question to strength of his bond with his childhood best friend. Wiley's entire life is on the brink of monumental change and this is the story of how everything plays out.
Immediately, the story grabbed me. Hine has a slick, modern writing style. It's catchy. I liked his main characters and enjoyed the office scheming. The story read like a more realistic, less comedic version of Office Space. It's relatable to anyone who has had to deal with office politics. The story would probably resonate very strongly with anyone who has been laid-off or who has dealt with a company about to go under. Luckily, I've not had either experience!
Unfortunately, the story failed to hold my interest. It gets a bit too bogged down in mundane details, especially those pertaining to the newspaper company. Sometimes it felt like reading a business manual. I felt like Hine must have worked in a similar environment to have written a novel filled with so many dull details.
The ending didn't fit with the tone of the overall story. Everything wrapped up quickly in a neat package that was somewhat surreal. The overall story needed to be a bit more wacky to fit with the ending. It felt tacked on and unnatural.
I often got the minor characters mixed up. There were too many characters in the office to keep track of them all. It would have read easier, if Hine had focused only on those most pertinent to the story, rather than trying to give info on so many different characters. This story should have been an easy read, but the details and onslaught of characters, made me work double-time to keep it all straight.
I finished the book within a few days, but was left feeling underwhelmed. Hine is a talented writer, but this story could have been a lot stronger.