Ian Bledsoe and Charalambos Konstantinou – “Charlie” – are scions of multimillionaires (billions, in Charlie’s case), classmates at an exclusive school in New York City. Both their families are busy tending their fortunes, and they devise a game they call “Destroyers” to fill some of their empty time. It’s fairly simple, but demands using their imaginations to rapidly devise solutions to life-threatening problems.
Ian’s family owns a large, successful baby food business, and when he is sent to the branch in Panama to begin his climb up the corporate ladder, he finds that he’s much more interested in the plight of the workers there, who labor long hours for little pay and nothing else. He becomes increasingly involved with them, neglects his job and comes under the influence of an activist, a woman he fancies himself to fall in love with, who introduces him to her brother, a local drug kingpin.
Ian becomes frightened as they try to pull him into their scheme to take control of the factory and he flees back to the States. On his return, penniless, he finds his father dying and himself expelled from the family and its fortune: they despise his lack of interest or capability in business.
He learns that Charlie has established a business on a Greek island, Patmos, and contacts him: “You’re my last hope.” Charlie welcomes him warmly and immediately employs him as “my number two,” in his yacht rental business, even though Ian tells him that he has no experience or interest in managing any business, much less one involving yacht rental.
From this beginning, the book pulls Ian and the reader into a web of unexpected twists and turns, leading him into a morass of lies, deception and threats as he finds out Charlie isn’t who he seems to be. The theme set early in the book plays itself out as Ian and Charlie re-create their childhood game in real life, with real consequences.
In one of the cover-blurbs, “The Destroyers” is described as a good beach read. I read it while vacationing on a large lake in southern Missouri, and I guess that qualifies. However, it’s much more than that. The author is deft at handling the plot and placing the reader on an island that we come to know intimately. This sets the book apart.