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PIPELINE by Peter Schechter

PIPELINE

By Peter Schechter

Pub Date: March 3rd, 2009
ISBN: 978-0-06-135816-6
Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

When the lights start going out in America, power brokers around the world start maneuvering to control the remaining energy sources.

Life’s a gas. For his sophomore outing, Washington political consultant Schechter (Point of Entry, 2006) digs deep into the details of American energy policies—too deep, judging by the sluggish pace and stiff dialogue that characterizes this contemporary polemic. In a plot ripped—almost literally—from T. Boone Pickens’s real-life energy-policy proposals, the book finds America backed into a corner over its overconsumption and dependence on foreign energy sources. California is going dark due to a sudden natural gas shortage, and the White House is scrambling to find alternative sources from which to import more. “We can’t pretend any longer,” says President Gene Laurence. “There are Americans dying today because we can’t get them electricity. We just can’t keep hoping the market is going to take care of the problem.” Schechter adequately portrays the urgency of the crisis but fails to fold the facts smoothly into the thriller mold. The plot pits Tony Ruiz, an ex-cop and presidential advisor prone to Jack Bauer–esque bursts of action-hero antics, and Blaise Ryan, a wildly improbable environmental activist, against the machinations of Viktor Zhironovsky, a Russian energy baron scheming to control America’s sources of go-go juice. “History won’t give a damn how we got there,” boasts Zhironovsky. “What the books will write about is the audacity that suddenly put Russia in control of a huge percentage of the liquefied gas needs of the United States of America.” Added in are the futuristic concept of a pipeline linking Russia and Alaska across the Bering Strait; a conspiracy to control the gas fields of Latin America; and the odd assassination.

The thriller as position paper, with too much explication and not enough suspense.