CM Archive
CM Archive Book Review line

Ballem, John.

Toronto. McClelland and Stewart, c1985. 270pp. cloth, $19.95, ISBNO-7710-10524.CIP

Reviewed by Jerry McDonnell

Volume 14 Number 3
1986 May

If sex, power, wealth, and intrigue in the Canadian petroleum industry can guarantee success for a book, this novel will certainly enjoy best seller status. Ballem, who is the author of The Devil's Lighter (General, 1973), tells the story of Bill Craw ford, who seemingly has everything. He is the chairman of Venture Oils Limited, a successful company that has given him great personal wealth, many friends, and virtually any woman he wants. Unfortunately, there are a few flies in the ointment. Crawford's wife, the love of his life, was killed in an accident brought on by her drunken stupor; there is an unknown bastard son who is a business whiz and who has resolved to take over his father's company in a personal vendetta: and Crawford's remaining son from his marriage is desperately trying to please his father and make up for the death of his brother by succeeding in the oil industry, when his true love is ranching.

Add to all of this Crawford's burning desire to find oil in the Arctic, a move that might bankrupt Venture, and we have the ingredients for corporate intrigue and takeover attempts that could throw our main character out on the streets of Calgary in a search for a new job. It is only through a great deal of hard work, manipulation of shareholders, and lobbying of the government in Ottawa that control of the company is maintained.

Along the way there is time for several graphically described sexual episodes, and a romance with a woman who starts out as a business enemy, but ends up as Crawford's wife. The plot is more convoluted than that of a soap opera and there are enough twists and turns to catch the attention of most readers.

This is a must addition to adult fiction collections in Canadian libraries, but schools should be cautioned about the sexual encounters that include some slightly out of the mainstream scenes. The book should be a hit with mature readers.

Jerry McDonnell, F.E. Madill S.S., Wingham. Ont.
line indexes


1971-1979 | 1980-1985 | 1986-1990 | 1991-1995


The materials in this archive are copyright © The Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission Copyright information for reviewers

Young Canada Works