J. Stewart Willis
Reviewed by Sheri Hoyte for Reader Views (3/18)
“Deadly Highway” by J. Stewart Willis is an intriguing tale of power, corruption, love, and betrayal, surrounding a lucrative project with high stakes, and a cast of characters who will stop at nothing in the name of corporate advancement.
The story begins when major tech company Bedford-Ewing International (B-E), receives a solicitation from the Department of Transportation for a bid on the initial phase of replacing the existing interstate highway system. It’s apparent that winning the bid for the Interstate Replacement Program, or the Super Highway system as it’s more commonly referred, will be a significant coup for the company and with that comes the pressure to perform all the way down the chain of command. With everything riding on this contract, teams are quickly assembled and sharp deadlines set to come up with the best conceivable concepts. As stress levels rise, lives become entangled, and relationships strained. It’s “every man for himself,” in the race for credit and recognition.
I enjoyed “Deadly Highway,” finding the premise for the story to be well-formulated and quite different from other corporate dramas. The chapters are short and succinct, which I prefer, as they move the plot faster and at a more even pace. That said, there are moments in the narrative that I wished were tighter, particularly as it relates to the technical and background information related to the project – necessary information to be sure, but it did take me out of the story a few times.
There is quite a cast of characters in this story, the main action revolving around three company-men and their wives. The representation of the different levels of employees within the company organization makes for high-level entertainment. From the obnoxious, self-serving managers to the “worker bees” trying to build their reputations, the characters are diverse, engaging and genuine. My favorite characters were a couple of the wives of the B-E employees. One sleeps around to ensure her husband’s climb up the corporate ladder. Another is finding herself through her own career after being a military wife for so many years. Both ladies have charismatic storylines that add additional layers to the plot, spicing things up and creating enticing distractions from the action in the company conference rooms.
As if corporate politics and all the drama it entails wasn’t enough, this story also includes all the juicy bits that make for an engaging thriller – from drugs and blackmail to adultery and murder. There is truly a bit of everything in “Deadly Highway” by J. Stewart Willis. The author captures the toxicity of the corporate environment with company politics, ethical quandaries, cut-throat manipulations and intimidation from every angle. An entertaining read!