Merrimon Book Reviews

Natural gas pipelines from Russia to the European Union, 2009
Credit: Samuel Bailey

An elevated section of the Alaska Pipeline, 800.302 miles of 48-inch pipe that conveys oil from Prudhoe Bay, to Valdez, Alaska.
The pipeline was built between 1974 and 1977 after the
1973 Oil Crisis.

From Merrimon Book Reviews
Pipeline by Peter Schechter
by Peter Schechter          

A California black-out during the heat of summer shocks the nation.  All the infrastructure needed for society to function collapses when the generators no longer function.  Hospitals and prisons no longer provide the needed safety nets.  As the death count rises, the black out becomes more than just a minor inconvenience.  Even in the wake of the fall-out, few politicians seem willing to risk making tough decisions about America's energy dependence.   Meanwhile, in South America, a meeting between a Peruvian senator and managers of a large natural gas company plan a new strategy that seems to be a good more environmentally friendly solution to America's precarious dependence on the Middle East for energy needs.  Is the plan too good to be true?  with an urgent call, Special Assistant to the President Tony Ruiz has a new assignment to investigate the plan, an investigation that will lead him into the maneuverings behind the emergence of a new Cold War, a war fought on different terms than the last.   Will Tony Ruiz be able to discover the truth and at what cost?

Peter Schechter's PIPELINE is a fast-paced, action-based political thriller.  Drawing on several headlines from Russia's aggressive tone and South American politics to California's past energy crisis notched up several steps and the push for more environmentally friendly energy solutions, Peter Schechter creates an all too real terrifying scenario.  Scenes change rapidly, creating tension as more and more players become involved with the plot.  Peter Schechter creates global connections between several characters.  Long intricate political and historical asides do not slow down the race to discover the connections between all the pieces.  Rather, Peter Schechter highlights each connection with a series of vignettes of focused scenes and characters representing the various sides.  Fans of Cold War suspense will appreciate the chilling possibilities of Russia's re-emergence as a challenge with which to be reckoned.  Most intriguing are the parallels and contrasts Peter Schechter draws between Tony Ruiz and his Russian counterpart, Daniel Vladimorovich Uggin.  Although both have similar beginnings in certain ways as hard-working non-political characters, each one rises and falls due to choices made and other factors.  Tony Ruiz is an admirable character, but one who also makes mistakes.   Tony Ruiz is definitely a character worth developing in future geo-political thrillers, especially in contrast to other players. 

PIPELINE escalates news headlines into a terrifying scenario where America is poised to become an unexpected pawn in the hands of a familiar historic enemy now using new tactics.  The author's impressive biography (founder of a Washington strategic communications firm, adviser to presidents, political advertising writer, counseling international organizations out of crisis, foreign language fluency, etc.) adds an exciting international dimension.  PIPELINE provides relief from the all too common proliferation Mideast terrorist thrillers with history reframing new unforeseen threats to America's survival among present-day changes in the international political landscape.  Future Tony Ruiz adventures would benefit from more concentration on characterization, such as the parallels between Tony Ruiz and his counterpart, if done so without sacrificing the fast-paced action herein.  As is, in this his second novel, PIPELINE is a fun, fast-paced work of suspense in which simple actions and decisions create escalating scenarios.  PIPELINE leaves a reader's imagination thinking of new possibilities and dangers. 

Publisher:  Harper. Reprint edition (February 23, 2010)
Author website

Reviewed by Merrimon, Merrimon Book Reviews
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