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Jacob Morais is just a normal kind of guy. He enjoys his life, with no big worries and certainly no dark forebodings of the kind that torment tinfoil-hatted survivalists. Then comes the shocker, the election of a dangerous buffoon as US president, a grotesque incompetent who’s manifestly unfit for office. Foreseeing wide scale disaster, Jacob stores emergency supplies in his basement and buys a gun. Meanwhile back in his day-to-day world he is recruited by an old friend to join her hot e-commerce start-up. When evidence surfaces that sketchy Russian investors are using the start-up as a front, Jacob agrees to help his friend expose the investors’ criminal scheme. The investors are suspicious and homicidal and Jacob’s life is on the line. It’s not the collapse of public order for which he prepared but it has the same imperative: Do what you must to survive.
Praise for Jacob’s Plan…
A man irrationally prepares for some unforeseeable catastrophe and, all of a sudden, that disaster arrives.
Jacob Morais is a self-described “normal kind of guy,” a successful management consultant in Cambridge, Massachusetts. But after a “dangerous buffoon takes over the White House,” he becomes obsessed with preparing for an imminent emergency, though it’s never clear what kind he envisions. He stockpiles supplies in his basement, buys a gun, and establishes a new identity, a manic process humorously described by Shapiro (Portrait of Ignatius Jones, 2014, etc.). He inherits a building in Montreal from his grandfather, and he puts the real estate under his alias and makes it the centerpiece of his “Plan B,” a strategy he devises should parlous circumstances demand it. He becomes so attached to his plan, he allows it to undermine his romance with Annie Kane, a fine arts professor. Jacob is hired to join Dazzle, a “hot start-up,” by the company’s new CEO, Sophie Bronstein, an old high school friend, who is coincidentally friends with Annie. The company is riven by intramural dispute, mostly stirred by the brashly disagreeable Viktor Rost, its chief financial officer. To make matters worse, Viktor turns out to represent the interests of a dangerous criminal organization using Dazzle as a money laundering operation. Jacob finds himself the rope in a tug of war between the Russian-Ukrainian mob and FBI agents who may be working for them. Jacob decides to flee Massachusetts, an intention made possible by his now apparently vindicated Plan B. The plot is ingeniously constructed–Shapiro masterfully blurs the line that distinguishes reasonably wary preparation and the intemperate paranoia of a “survivalist.” Furthermore, the story’s taut suspense is tantalizingly immersive–the plot’s unpredictability grips the reader. Problematically, Jacob remains a touch inscrutable. It’s never entirely clear what truly is the basis of his troubled fear in the first place. Nevertheless, this is a riveting exploration of life’s uncertainty and the resourcefulness it can demand.
A daring, refreshingly original drama.
— Kirkus Reviews
The strength of this novel is definitely the characterization of Jacob himself. A survivalist at heart, none-the-less his self-interest is tempered by a moral compass and a sense of loyalty. As mentioned, the plot is fast moving. Although inevitably tangled in the intricacies of a situation well beyond his control, he “does his best”. (Amazon 5 stars)
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