Downfall by Brian Lutterman (Pen Wilkinson #1)

A surprisingly good read. I have never heard of this author before, however now that I finished reading Downfall by Brian Lutterman, I might just pick up his previous novels as well.

A tragic accident in the past left Pen Wilkinson in wheelchair for life, killing her niece at the same time. Her life is ruined, her career as an attorney is down the drains (afterall who would want a counselor that takes away sympathy from the client due to her physical situation), so she’s happy when she finds a job at a bank in Minnesota – not quite what she had in mind, though, but at this time any job that pays the bills will do.

Little does she know that the job she’s so eagerly accepted will be anything but what she envisioned, especially when it might just become her final downfall.

The day when she wakes up with the media in front of her house questioning her about a shady deal that she apparently took part in is the day everything changes – maybe even more so than the day the accident had left her paraplegic. However she is sure that it’s all a mistake. Even when she’s interrogated by the company lawyers and accused of fraud and siding with supremacists in taking down the company. Right until she realizes that something is very wrong in that company and someone might have hired her for a specific evil reason.

Having lost pretty much everything, with nothing more to lose, Pam decides to start investigating on her own. Out of a job she has all the time she needs to try to solve the puzzle of who wants to hurt the company and why was she selected as the proverbial scapegoat.

With the help of a few people placed at strategical places and times in her quest to find the truth, she starts to unravel a plot so evil that literally noone wants to believe her, including the police or the FBI. What’s worse, the FBI is on her tail for the company sabotage.

During all this time Pen’s life is in danger more times than she can count them, she’s running from the Feds while she is trying to figure out who is the mastermind to all this scheming which seemingly reaches way beyond her company as well with companies going and and people being murdered every step of the way.

Downfall is a very intense thriller. Once I started reading, I couldn’t put it down. The storyline was engaging and the twists and turns kept coming every few pages. When I thought I had something figured out, I was hit with a new twist that gave the book a completely new direction.

When I finally started to realize the magnitude of what was going on, I had to stop to think for a moment – could something like this be actually happening in our world the way we know it? Scary thought.

The ending was a bit of a compromise, but I do understand why it had to happen. Pam is only one person and as strong as she is, we do want to see her in another book (which from what I’ve read online, it might just happen, turning this standalone novel into a great thriller series). Pam was realist enough to know when it’s time to stop, and I respected that about her.

I really cared for this character, and personally I think she is one of the strongest characters I’ve seen in books recently. I guess the fact that she is in a wheelchair gave her a different view on life. She is not big in the romance department, so what happened at the end surprised me a bit – although not much, I did hope for this ending in a way.

I am glad that the author didn’t focus much on romance, sprinkling only a bit of romantic dust here and there, enough to keep our eyes focused on character development and interaction. I really wanted to read a corporate thriller and that’s what I ended up reading, for which I am thankful.

Overall I enjoyed meeting the character of Pen Wilkinson and I really hope I”ll get to see her in a second book in the Downfall series.


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  1. I loved it!! I was sucked into the book from the very start and enraptured to the end. Congratulations on a great plot, character, and story!

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