You want to get my attention? Write the first 3-5 pages of your novel with this kind of elegant full-tilt-boogie action and I'm all yours!
What the big accounting firms forget is, if someone's rigging the books, they're already lying to you. And the longer they've gotten away with it, the better they're going to be.
A good audit isn't a playdate with calculators. It's a hostile interrogation.
The Clay Micro offices were on the second floor of a converted industrial building. Pittsburgh's local rust belt was right outside but state development funds had paid for a nice rehab, all exposed brick and granite columns. Across a range of cubicles I could see interior glass overlooking the line floor.
"Sir? Sir?" A young woman behind the chrome reception desk, wireless earpiece blinking, tried to wave me down. "Do you have---?"
"Here to see the chief." I smiled and finished removing my cap--I'd stretched it out an extra two seconds. Long enough to keep my hand, and the hat itself, in front of my face while I crossed the ceiling camera's field.
"Is he expecting you?"
"Sure." I kept moving.
"Because I don't--"
"Thank you, Sharon." And I was in, headed for the executive suites at the end of the wing.
Hearing her name puzzled the receptionist an extra moment even though I'd simply read it off the nameplate on her desk. But she was fast enough to dial up help. Two young guys in suits arrived at the CEO's office the same time I did. Not security but willing to pitch in. One had a coffee cup in hand, and it spilled down his shirt as I shoved past and banged open the door.
The CEO twisted around in his leather chair, reading glasses falling off his nose, staring in pasty surprise. "Wha--?"
I slammed the door in the face of my pursuers and said, rather loudly, "False invoices for ten point one million in Q4. Your boss sent me, Brinker."
Then I opened the door again, stepped to the side and waited.
I'll give him this, Brinker was quick. He gestured at the two eager beavers bursting in and said without hesitation, "It's okay. I need to talk to him. Back to work."
And five seconds later we were alone. That told me something about his style. He confirmed that our conversation was going to be harder than necessary when his next words to me were, "You're full of crap. The audit committee passed on those statements, and I've got signatures. Understand?"
"You think I'm an accountant," I said. "Here to cross-check invoices, review the bank reccs, that sort of thing. Right?"
Brinker picked up his glasses and laid them on the gleaming hardwood desk, perhaps comforted by its vast size and width. The office had that hushed, opulent feel of a hundred-grand interior design contract. Thin gray light filtered through the windows, which must have created a glare problem on his plasma monitor, but which lit the room pleasantly.
"You can pound sand," he said. "That's what I think."
I drew my Sig Sauer P2267 from its around-the-back holster. It's a nice workaday handgun, pricey to be sure, but heavy, reliable and intimidating. The suppressor made it look like something out of Hitman. Brinker, showing nice reflexes, immediately dove under the desk. Without really aiming I shot out the monitor, his telephone console and for good measure the framed Harvard diploma on the wall.
Destroying the phone must have triggered an intercom or something. The door flew open as Brinker pulled his way back up from the floor, glaring. The two young men outside peered in suspiciously, but between the suppressor and the high-class soundproofing, I doubt they heard anything. The Sig was already back under my jacket.
"Sorry, private meeting." I pushed the door shut again.
"All right." Brinker brushed broken plastic from the desk. "You're not an accountant."
"Actually--well, never mind. Ready to talk about revenue recognition?"
He was a tough nut. After several fruitless minutes, I opened the door and called out, "Where's the supply closet? We need a paper cutter."
The two men were still in the hallway, along with the receptionist. The three of them stared back at me, uncertain.
I looked at Brinker. "You want them to hear what we're talking about?"
He frowned and said past me, "Just do what he says. Sharon, you."
"Uh, sir, are you sure--?"
"Don't worry." The son of a gun was getting confident again, which began to annoy me. When Sharon brought up the paper cutter--a nice big one, a grid-marked platform with a two-foot swivel blade--I locked the door and dumped it on Brinker's desk.
"Drop your pants," I said, and opened the blade.
Think Jack Reacher with an abacus. FULL RATCHET is the second Silas Cade novel; the first, CLAWBACK, is damn good too.