Danny Lynch is a former soldier and a line cook. He’s worked at a fine restaurant in New York before taking a job managing food service for a civilian contractor in Afghanistan, a job he took because it would pay well enough to help set him and his girlfriend, Kate, on a better financial footing. He’s back from Afghanistan and looking for work as Alan Glynn’s Paradime opens.
Paradime is a conspiracy thriller, though at first you wonder if the conspiracy is all in Danny’s head. He witnessed the murder of two TCN (third country national) workers by some of the company guards. Gideon, the company, has covered it up completely, as though it has not happened. They send him back home, threaten him with withholding his pay and even with prosecution, but then one of their executives intervenes, trying a carrot instead of a stick, finding him a good job at a upscale restaurant. Things are looking up financially but on a a downturn emotionally. Danny can’t help feeling guilty about taking the job. He’s also fighting with Kate who wants him to fight Gideon and expose them.
Then one day he looks up at work and sees himself. His doppelgänger, someone so strikingly like him that he becomes obsessed with learning more and more about him, even getting his hair cut and buying a good suit in order to look even more like him. He lurks around Paradime, his doppelgänger’s company. Imagine, he looks like a famous tech billionaire.
Of course, the two meet and that when the suspense kicks into high gear. That is also when we discover there is at least one conspirator. It keeps getting more complex and there are undercurrents and hidden agendas that keep revealing themselves as the story races forward.
I am conflicted about Paradime. I was engrossed. I was puzzled at how pieces of the story would fit together, why was so much attention spent on Gideon and the incident in Afghanistan then dropped as the whole doppelgänger story moved to center stage, but the loose ends are picked up and tied together as we move deeper into the story. But, in the end, I also thought it was much ado, and wondered why there was so much plotting, so much effort, so much cost (as Danny put it) for so little purpose.