Books by Stephen J. Rivele

Released: Jan. 18, 2011

"In-your-face violence and resilient heroism that leaps off the page."
The life and work of a tireless Compton, Calif. beat cop. Read full book review >
A BOOKE OF DAYS by Stephen J. Rivele
Released: Feb. 1, 1997

A historical saga of Pope Urban II's perverse ``armed pilgrimage''—that is, the First Crusade—brilliantly folds post- Vietnam cynicism and late-20th-century spiritual doubt into a bloody, muddy, horrifyingly surreal march to Jerusalem in 1096. First-novelist Rivele, a screenwriter and playwright, begins this medieval pastiche as a roots tale, in which he tells of his personal discovery of a diary kept by his fictional ancestor, Roger l'Escrivel (the writer), Duke of the Provenáal region of Lunel. Presented as Rivele's modern translation (with delightfully ironic annotations) of Roger's diary, the story begins with bumbling Roger's seduction by a peasant's wife. After the cuckolded peasant apparently drowns himself, Roger, a fretful Candide, seeks to atone for his guilt by joining the 30,000 nobles, knights, and peasants who make up the First Crusade. As if he were writing a Vietnam combat novel, the author revels in ghastly scenes of violence and depravity laced with unexpected wit. When the brain-damaged peasant Peter Bartholomew burns himself to death clutching a holy relic that was supposed to protect him from harm, and when the bloodthirsty Normans, who decorate their armor with the severed body parts of their victims, let political intrigue almost destroy the ragtag remnant of a once-mighty army, Roger confronts God with a very 20th-century version of despair. His suffering is made only worse when he falls in love with a wise and beautiful Turkish poetess, Yasmin. Yasmin's mystical mutterings about faith and emptiness increase Roger's spiritual agony, which reaches the breaking point when he abandons Yasmin, who is now pregnant with his child, to join his comrades for the final assault on Jerusalem. No feel-good sophistry or sentimentality relieves Roger's Pyrrhic revelation within Jerusalem's Church of the Holy Sepulchre. A stunningly mature novel of faith, violence, love, and loss that, while rooted in late-20th-century nihilism and uncertainty, remains scrupulously faithful to its period. Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 1, 1991

Spellbinding autobiography of a child prodigy—gifted in the black arts of weaponry—who enters the shadow world of international-arms sales. Raised in the San Francisco Bay area in the late 60's, McClung was the son of an aeronautical engineering genius and gave early proof of his own prodigious grip on ``mechanix'' by secretly building a complex electric rifle when he was four. McClung was accepted by the Bay area's genius education program for ``Mentally Gifted Minors,'' whose special scientific projects were constantly sifted by the CIA for ideas—with the best projects (including McClung's vest for bugging and eavesdropping) stolen and passed on to CIA scientists. At 14, McClung met OSS-CIA master spy John Colling, who taught him the basics of spy-craft. Then falconer and top CIA assassin Ray Goodreau taught him about falconry and animal training, unconventional weapons, and commando tactics; McClung had already shaped his body into a lethal weapon through the martial arts. Goodreau also sharpened him into a remorseless anticommunist death-dealer. Eventually, McClung fell in with Marty Rhymer, a CIA wire-man, and Gabe Margolis, a boorish Mossad commando, who together had formed Amida Ltd., later a CIA secret business whose cover was selling weapons, uniforms and support gear to California law enforcement agencies but which quickly became a feast of international arms dealing. McClung refined a new Diplomat poison- tipped pen-gun, and, with his deadly book-gun (a copy of The Book of the Dead that fired bullets) and always accurate laser rifle, etc., etc. (diagrams for many of the weapons are given), became the company's chief inventor of killer ``toys.'' Then Ibriham Haddad, fat and perfumed king of arms dealers, invaded Amida and took it over, adding his own poison to Amida's already irredeemably corrupt juices. When Amida set up McClung to be assassinated, he hid out in the wilds for three years and abandoned dealing death downward from the top of the food chain. The rotten underbelly of US Intelligence, grippingly sliced open. Film rights sold. Read full book review >