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Tuesday, August 11, 2015
When the chairman of a counter-terrorism group under three Presidents decides to write a novel, you better believe that book will give you a unique, inside look at the dirty world of terrorism. It seems like I’ve reviewed quite a few of these types of books lately, but Richard A. Clarke’s book, Pinnacle Event takes the genre to a whole new level.

During the lead up to the 2016 Presidential election, five people around the world are simultaneously murdered. The connection? All evidence points toward the illegal sale of several previously unknown nuclear warheads. What group holds these cards and what are their targets? Washington turns to retired intelligence expert, Ray Buchanan, to track down these terrorist and uncover their diabolical plan.

All fears among the leaders in Washington point toward detonations in American cities. However, as Buchanan and his team discover, there is something far more sinister planned for these weapons of mass destruction. Behind all the shadows and news designed to keep the public even further in the dark is a group of men and women bent on changing the world order. Though it isn’t outright stated in this book, the old adage, “follow the money,” holds very true here.

This book explores the concept of what certain people with power and money will do to ensure they are able to increase both power and money. In their worldview, there are no avenues closed to them on their rise to total control, even if it destroys civilization in the process. In their view, it’s even better if the dregs of society are culled at the same time.

Gone are the days of the Cold War with known enemies. These days, splinter groups and small, dedicated factions with anti-government agendas have taken the place of the Soviet Union. The fact that these groups are small and scattered makes their threats more valid and much, much more frightening.

Richard Clarke sends us on a global adventure that visits all the hovels where terrorists rule.  The scenes and the plots are well developed and take off in several directions at once. All these threads are investigated, including the false leads. The author’s ability to build a plot that meanders through different, vibrant scenes is perfect. The reader knows from reading this book that he’s actually been to the places he is describing.

The biggest lacking element to this book is in the area of character development. The main character follows nearly every stereotype available for a reluctant, genius hero. He has retired to a tropical island to enjoy himself after an illustrious career. He really doesn’t want to help out in the investigation, but his conscience eventually drives him to throw his life into danger at every turn. He’s shot at, beat up, and nearly blown up. Yet, even with broken ribs and a battered body, he still finds that reserve strength to save the day at the last possible moment. His whole life is a cliché.

The best attribute to this book is the author himself. Richard Clarke served under both Presidents Bush, and President Clinton.  As a White House official, he was Special Assistant to the President for Global Affairs, Special Advisor to the President for Cyberspace, and National Coordinator for Security and Counter-terrorism. He knows how the terror network operates, and he uses that knowledge to write a terrifyingly realistic scenario.

Clarke focuses on the small groups of determined people who ultimately could do the most damage to our way of life. This novel is a rude awakening to the ever-present dangers that lurk behind the shiny facades of the next big fad or the hottest new reality show. This is reality, and he shoves it right in our faces. Aside from the lack of character development, Pinnacle Event should make one stop and think. And that’s what we need – a little more thinking.

+Craig Bacon  often terrorizes his children. Does that make him a terrorist? You can follow every misdeed on Twitter at @hippieboy73.

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