Picks and Pans Review: A California Conspiracy

updated 02/29/1988 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 02/29/1988 AT 01:00 AM EST

by Richard Lamm and Arnold Grossman

Opening a book to a line that reads like this—"The warm orange glow of approaching dawn virtually promised another good day for the Sacramento area"—is like opening the door to an autopsy room. This thriller lives down to that lifeless opening. It's a cadaver laid out strictly by the numbers, concerning a conspiracy by a group of former Japanese Air Corps officers out to avenge their nation's World War II defeat by engineering America's economic collapse. Central to the goal of the villainous Phoenix Group is their gaining possession of a piece of advanced computer technology that "could tilt the entire balance of world military power" and that is called in all seriousness the Doomsday Disk. The book's energetic hero and America's last line of defense is the idealistic Governor of California, Terry Jordan; support is provided by his idealistic political aides, his idealistic billionaire-businessman buddy and his idealistic movie-star girlfriend. Perhaps aimed at a presumed anti-Japanese paranoia, this novel required the input of two authors: Lamm is the (idealistic?) ex-Governor of Colorado; Arnold Grossman is his (idealistic?) former media consultant. Usually the best that can be said of efforts like this is that they are better than watching a sitcom on television. This one is not. (St. Martin's, $18.95)

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