Lack of Ambition, Peter Stankovic’s thriller set in Australia, casts a critical eye on the mercenary business world.
In the first few exciting pages of the story, a shadowy gang kidnaps the entire management team of Easy Insurance Group (EIG) Ltd., a Sydney-based multinational conglomerate. It’s soon clear that these kidnappers aren’t seeking ransom, but answers. For the next 17 days, the bad guys mistreat and interrogate imperious CEO John Franks and his underlings. Surprisingly, their questions swirl around boardroom intrigues and business practices.
While Australian cops scurry to find the missing executives, we meet Jordan Johnson—JJ, for short—a new EIG employee who appears to know more than he’s telling. In time, we learn that the manipulative, devious JJ has infiltrated EIG to avenge the death of his father, a victim of EIG’s corporate treachery, which involves a lucrative prostitution division, human trafficking, and a pedophilia ring.
A real-life financial pro in Sydney himself, Stankovic certainly knows how the insurance industry works, so the venal business world he simulates is credible. And Australia’s capital is a refreshing new cityscape for crime-fiction readers weary of Manhattan melodramas. With all that, how could Lack of Ambition possibly miss?
Alas, all the ingredients of first-class literary mayhem are there, but this corporate-revenge tale never rises.
In the end, Lack of Ambition simply lacks the thrill of a top-notch thriller. Stankovic earns kudos for a creative concept, but the action never truly hits any high, dangerous notes. An unwieldy cast, a labyrinthine scheme, over-explained details, and poor editing stifle the pace. Meanwhile, the author’s hard-to-love protagonist stifles reader engagement.
Revenge might be a dish best served cold, but revenge stories require a white-hot intensity. Dramatically, after a promising start, this novel barely breaks a sweat.
Also available in hardcover and ebook.