Books by Bob Reiss

NON-FICTION
Released: May 15, 2012

"A rewarding glimpse behind the Alaska oil headlines."
An on-the-ice view of the struggle over offshore oil exploration in Alaska. Read full book review >
PURGATORY ROAD by Bob Reiss
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: Feb. 12, 1996

A banal chiller from Reiss (The Last Spy, 1993, etc.), this set at an American research base in Antarctica, in which a lone scientist battles the elements, colleagues, and superiors to solve the deeper mystery of his sister's death. Against administrative orders, gifted seismologist Jack Amirault (engaged in classified sounding work for the US Navy) and best friend Brian Phillips venture out to save sexy environmentalist Robyn Cassidy, who's marooned on Purgatory Road, a perilous mountain pass she's traversing to dramatize the dangers that development poses to the polar continent's ecology. The rescue mission succeeds, albeit at the cost of Brian's life—and Jack's status as a reliable team player. One year later, Evylyn Amirault, also working at the base, is found dead, floating in the frigid waters bordering the remote US station. While Jack believes his sister's been murdered, the official verdict is that she was the victim of an unfortunate accident. And fellow scientists—unwilling to jeopardize their government grants on the eve of a treaty that could open the resource-rich land to commercial exploitation, and wary of the grieving Jack's mental stability—decline to help. Jack nonetheless persists in his unwelcome inquiries and unearths evidence convincing him that there's a more sinister conspiracy. Circumstance obliges him to join forces with Robyn (who has her own agenda), and the two light out through the treacherous wilderness to confirm Jack's suspicions. Before they can come in from the cold to expose the schemes of the Western world's military/industrial complex, however, they must survive a fearsome blizzard, great sex on the glacier, and a lethal shootout in a craggy redoubt that houses mummified seals. Despite intentions good enough to pave an alternate route to hell, a preachy tract largely unredeemed by entertainment value. Read full book review >
NON-FICTION
Released: Feb. 3, 1994

On a fascinating and informative journey, reporter and novelist Reiss (The Last Spy, p. 1331, etc.) examines what keeps passengers safe in the air. You may wonder, as Reiss did, how a multi-ton metal machine manages to fly, or how statistics can show that you're safer as a passenger in the US skies than in a bus, train, or car. With the cooperation of Delta Airlines, Reiss went looking for the answers. During a 72-hour stretch, he strapped himself in the cockpit jump seat of a Delta Lockheed L-1011 widebody jet as it flew out from Atlanta and back, with stops in Salt Lake City, L.A., Honolulu, and Dallas. New flight crews took over at several stops, but Reiss stayed with this 18-year old jet that had already carried more than three million Delta passengers during nearly 57,000 flight hours. In the cockpit, he watched the interplay between pilot, co-pilot and engineer as they studied flight plans, talked with the control tower, ticked off items on mandatory checklists and double-checked systems and myriad dials, gauges, switches and warning lights. Flying above 10,000 feet, with workload reduced, the crew felt free to share tales of pilot skill as well as errors, and, yes, stories of sex in the galley. In the weeks before and after his trip, Reiss also interviewed many on the ground whose combined efforts help assure flight safety—from top executives to mechanics, flight dispatchers to weather analysts, air traffic controllers and aircraft designers. In all: an enjoyable history both of commercial aviation and a leading US airline. Read full book review >
THE LAST SPY by Bob Reiss
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: Jan. 21, 1993

Crackerjack spy yarn about an ultra-deep Soviet agent trying to come in from the cold—and a big step up for Reiss, who's previously spun out only so-so thrillers (Flamingo, 1989; Saltmaker, 1988, etc.). Reiss opens in 1967, with a group of Smith Falls, Mass., schoolkids studying current events—only these kids are Russian, and their town, a training ground for spies that's a carbon copy of the real Smith Falls, sits in Siberia. Cut to 1991: One of the kids, known only as Ash, is now a Washington Post reporter—and, like his ex-classmates, is feeding information back to Moscow through the group's leader, David Kislak. But lately Kislak has inexplicably been asking for data about Third World trade; curious, Ash breaks the cardinal rule of no-contact. Kislak gives Ash a vague explanation and, when Ash leaves, sends a killer after the nosy spy—sparking the nonstop manhunt that dominates the story. Running fast, Ash tracks down another group member; but she, loyal to Kislak, tries to kill Ash—who then seeks refuge in the Soviet embassy in Washington, only to learn that no one there knows of his group: So many years have passed that the group's Moscow controls have died. Kislak, Ash realizes, is acting on his own, fattening his wallet by selling to various parties the data fed him by the group. Meanwhile, Gorbachev is ousted by the coup, and two KGB honchos—an old-liner and a moderate—begin to vie for control of Kislak's network. As Ash heads to the real-life Smith Falls to resolve matters by locating the group's founder, Kislak follows— but the KGB moderate follows as well, cavalry riding to a last- minute rescue during a brutal, bloody climax. High-velocity action plus clever interludes—as when Ash confesses to his girlfriend that he's a spy—add up to a smart, taut thriller, Reiss's best by far. Read full book review >
THE ROAD TO EXTREMA by Bob Reiss
NON-FICTION
Released: March 1, 1992

In this captivating and original exploration of the state of the global ecosystem, journalist and novelist Reiss (Flamingo, 1989, Saltmaker, 1988) travels between New York and the Amazon rain forest, the better to underscore the critical interdependency between the two worlds. Brazil's highway BR-364, linking the towns of Porto Velho and Rio Branco, has been called the ``most controversial road in Latin America,'' praised in Brazil for enabling poor migrants to settle previously undeveloped forests but reviled in the States as ``a straw sucking up the Amazon.'' In traveling this road to determine the effects of ten years of development, Reiss makes it clear that the damage is real. Cattle ranches have transformed forests into infertile wasteland; poorly planned dams have put hundreds of acres of trees under water; Indian tribes have been decimated by disease; immigrant populations are overflowing Porto Velho's slums; and families of rubber-tappers are being crowded out of the forests by landowners. Reiss's interspersed reports on how Brazilian disasters affect life in the States literally brings these issues home: a New York teenager is cured of Hodgkin's disease by a drug distilled from an Amazonian plant even as US researchers work to keep thousands of other species of Amazonian flora from being obliterated; senior citizens are rescued from overheated apartments as North American summers grow hotter, possibly from the greenhouse effect; discussions proliferate concerning increased war and poverty in Third World countries as natural resources are exhausted. Reiss concludes that effective corrective actions by developed countries should include more ``debt-for-nature swaps''; conservation programs that take into account the needs of poor Brazilian settlers; pressure on the Brazilian government to enforce forest zoning and monitor bank-funded development; and increased individual activism. The rain forests will inevitably continue to shrink, Reiss points out. The question is, will we learn in time to preserve and cultivate nature, or face more plunder, extinction, and death? Lively, informative journalism. Read full book review >