This non-fiction story is more interesting than any fictional crime detective story. I feel compelled to be a bit more enthusiastic than usual about this book to overcome the reaction of potential readers who are not interested in a story about price fixing at Archer Daniels Midland (ADM). That may sound boring. Trust me, it’s not!
By the end of the book, you will learn that as of the year 2000 over a billion dollars in fines had been paid worldwide by various food and pharmaceutical companies as a result of the fall-out from this case. Thousands of normally law-abiding people had to be involved over many years for such wide spread price fixing to exist. It took one flawed cooperating witness to expose the crimes to law enforcement. When I use the word “flawed,” this one was a doozy! As multiple layers of lies are peeled back in this story the reader can’t help but wonder just how many more layers can there be?
The story is told from the point of view of the FBI as they investigate the case. A small but interesting part of the story is the internal friction between the FBI and the Department of Justice (DOJ) prosecutors. In this case the FBI appears to be the good guys and the DOJ are a bunch of bumbling idiots. At one point the DOJ appears to be guilty of trying to obstruct justice in response to political pressure. It’s too bad the author wasn’t able to learn the behind-the-scenes reasons for their actions. It was probably a good example of the effect of the generous political contributions made by ADM.
A runner-up for the Pulitzer Prize, The Informant is a mesmerizing piece of investigative reporting. The foreword to the book says that everything in the book is true including the lies. After finishing the book, I understand the reason for that statement.