Adam Cassidy is a twenty-something staffer at Wyatt Telecommunications, happily spending his nights bar-hopping and his days avoiding any actual work. As a prank, Adam hacks into Wyatt’s bank accounts to pay for a dock worker’s retirement party, and before long CEO Nick Wyatt is offering Adam a choice: go to prison for embezzlement or become a corporate spy.
Wyatt wants Adam to infiltrate Trion Systems, a company owned and run by Wyatt’s longtime rival Jock Goddard. Wyatt’s team will create a false identity for Adam and teach him to talk like a marketing genius; Adam will get a job at Trion and report back to Wyatt on Jock Goddard’s latest secret project.
Inside Trion, Adam gathers information and passes it to Wyatt while struggling with the practical side of corporate espionage (pesky security systems, locked offices, and nosy colleagues) and coping with his ailing father. The elder Cassidy never has a kind word for Adam, while Jock Goddard quickly takes Adam under his wing, just like a son. Adam begins to believe in his own deception, feeling more and more like Goddard’s protege rather than Wyatt’s spy.
Paranoia benefits from Joseph Finder’s research at several telecommunications companies including Hewlett Packard and Apple Computer. Although Finder’s plot holds few surprises once Adam has infiltrated Trion and mystery fans will anticipate the ending, Adam is a neatly written callow youth, and the contrast between his moral compass (or lack thereof) and those of the corporate sharks around him provides an entertaining read.