Books by Steve Pieczenik

STATE OF EMERGENCY by Steve Pieczenik
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: Oct. 27, 1997

Pieczenik (Pax Pacifica, 1995, etc.) offers a sluggish, unforgivably talky near-future tale in which four western governors with more guts than brains lock horns with a federal government whose increasingly autocratic actions have driven even law-abiding citizens into the arms of secessionists. National Guard units seize Glen Canyon Dam at the start of a July 4 weekend, and the US is on the brink of its second Civil War. In the name of states' rights, the governors of Arizona, Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming call for the immediate return of lands and resources expropriated by Washington for environmental or military purposes. With both the president and his veep conveniently out of the country, Secretary of State Barbara Reynolds is minding the store in the nation's capital. Aware that the breakaway jurisdictions have foreign allies (especially France) prepared to support them for commercial reasons, Reynolds responds in measured fashion, first seeking guidance from a self-consciously multicultural advisory board and then dispatching Allison Carter (her clever medical officer) to parley with the rebels at their remote command post in the Grand Tetons. Once there, he clashes with Josiah Brigham, the militant governor of Utah, and joins forces with Coloradan Cheri Black (an apparent co-conspirator who's been drummed out of the conspiracy for insufficient ardor). As US troops regain control of federal properties and as American agents fire warning shots across the bows of European ships of state, luscious Cheri and smitten Al head into the hinterland. The crafty pair eventually track Brigham to his lair in Salt Lake City. In this muddled version of future shock, good fellows and bad have world enough and time to crack wise or to debate the Constitution and its meanings with considerable eloquence and at great length. Their disinclination to stop chatting and get on with the harder jobs at hand, though, leaves both their insurrection and counterattack DOA. Read full book review >
PAX PACIFICA by Steve Pieczenik
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Feb. 3, 1995

A thriller based on a fundamental tenet of Sun Tzu's Art of War: Wars are won not on the battlefield, but in the minds of men. After trying to disentangle the minds here, we'll take the action, please. Assistant Secretary of State Desaix Clark (hero of Maximum Vigilance, 1992) is sent to Beijing by his friend and boss, Secretary of State Jim Moffat, to avert a Chinese/Japanese invasion of Taiwan. His initial meeting with Prime Minister Lee Ann Wu is rife with hidden meanings underlying the chatter about food and culture; Desaix, also a psychiatrist, is happy to engage in the minister's mind games. When Ann reveals a possibly apocryphal conflict with her defense minister, General Y.K. Chang, Desaix is torn between negotiating with Chang, who periodically detains him in torture chambers, or with Ann, who proves to be mentally unstable. His uncertainty extends to all the top officials he meets from China, Japan, and Taiwan, any of whom may be vying for pan-Asian control. He and his entourage, which includes CIA Beijing Station Chief Phoebe Hill, race via underground tunnel, rail, and ship to Shanghai, where an international delegate will attempt to reach a resolution before war erupts. Desaix gradually uncovers the most shocking secret of all regarding bureaucratic rivalry between the US State Department and the CIA. Realizing that he is being used as a pawn between Ann and Chang, Desaix is now unable to trust even his old friend Jim. The narrative embodies Sun Tzu's state of formlessness, in which the warrior follows his adversary with a plan that has no constant shape, observing and waiting until he has the opportunity to strike. Unfortunately, the complex deceptions and lack of structure create a difficult reading experience. The mental gymnastics Desaix employs to get himself out of dangerous situations are lost on baffled readers. Pieczenik uses Chinese philosophy to weave a web so intricate that it's opaque and abstruse. Read full book review >
MAXIMUM VIGILANCE by Steve Pieczenik
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: July 15, 1992

A world-famous crisis manager, hostage negotiator, national security expert, deputy assistant secretary of state, and psychiatrist is the only man who can save the world from a fiendish multinational plot to restore multinational tension. Author Pieczenik (Blood Heat, 1988, etc.) is a world-famous crisis manager, hostage negotiator, national security expert, former deputy assistant secretary of state, and psychiatrist. While relaxing with a geisha in a Tokyo hot tub after the rigors of a tricky, testy day of binational negotiations, Desaix Clark is landed with a particularly tricky problem. Why has the corpse of America's leading expert in Russian studies come crashing through the shoji screen from the room next door? And, come to think of it, why was the dead Russophile sent to Japan with Clark's negotiating team when he should have been in Washington, where the post-Bush administration is coping with a Russian-American face-off in Germany? And who on earth would use tooth-protecting fluoride as a murder weapon? Clark finds, when he returns to the States, that the answers to these and other alarming questions all have something to do with matching secret plots in both Washington and Moscow, which also have something to do with a plot to prove the President insane when he's actually just suffering from the same rare medical syndrome that Abraham Lincoln might have had. About the only person the sexually irresistible Dr. Clark can find whom he can trust as he battles the diabolical bureaucrats in the effort to save the world is the attractive, sometime sapphic chief of the President's security detail. As Clark shoots his way through the decadent federal city, the president of the Russian Republic is pursued by a deadly descendant of the beloved poet Pushkin. Heats up every once in a great long while. Read full book review >