“Balance of Power” by James North Patterson, written in 2003 on 1004 pages, was a stunning read at the time of January 8 in Tucson.
It is a novel – the author takes great care to assure the reader it is a novel. The author is definitely a man who knows his way around, inside and outside Washington, D.C. The research that went into the story is overwhelming.
It is a story of a young, inexperienced man who wins the presidency after his older brother, the candidate about to win, is shot. It is a story of a young woman who is a reporter who covered the war in Kosovo and has seen too much slaughter by gun shots. Her sister is struggling within an abusive marriage. Returning to their home in California after the D.C. wedding, the reporter’s family – mother, sister and 9 year old niece – are shot as they leave the plane under heavy federal security.
The president decides “enough!” and looks for ways to go to court for the family and other victims, and to pass some gun control.
The battle over gun control is an explosive issue. It still is. This novel becomes a story of choosing between ethics and integrity over friends and friendships. It uncovers the corruption of politics and politicians. It demonstrates how the law and money collide. It is a legal battle over gun control and the second amendment to the U.S. Constitution. It tells of the media exploitation of events and people in the pursuit of higher ratings. It is the story of the majority and minority struggling to compromise, the struggle for the one vote to pass a controversial law. The very real pain and struggle of the families involved, including the president’s family, the victims and the survivors, is real.
The legal battle between victims of gun violence, gun manufacturers, the National Rifle Association becomes explosive and personal.
It is a book to truly ponder. One wonders why January 8 could happen here in our hometown. Some of the answers may lie in this novel. We haven’t seen or heard the end of the needless, unexplained violence of guns in the hands of perhaps the emotionally or mentally unbalanced person. Money still demands and commands much. The choices are painful and costly and often difficult.
If you have strong opinions on gun control laws or politics or money, you may not appreciate this book for what it is. But still, you might ponder, and wonder again, how could this happen in our home town?
Open your eyes. Look around you. You may just be surprised at what you see and learn.