For the Minds and

Wills of Men


It is Manhattan, 1953. Fear of communist subversion and espionage are tearing America apart. New York is exploding as the cultural epicenter of the world with a burgeoning abstract expressionist art movement.


While recovering a stolen Jackson Pollock for a wealthy client, art insurer Will Oxley falls for the client’s daughter who leads him deep into the rebellious and seductive world of the abstract expressionist painters, their Village bar haunts and East Hampton binges. 


But when Will learns the painting may be covering communist secrets better left hidden, he is torn between exposing the girl he loves or trusting her instead. Yet he is not sure that trust is enough to clear his name, find the painting, and defend the woman he loves. Will is chased through the streets of Manhattan by government agents, blacklisted, entangled with the mafia, and pursued deep into the bowels of the lower stacks of the New York library.


Realizing nothing is as it seems, Will is caught between communist espionage, secret government programs, and the grip of cold war fear, anger, suspicion, and betrayal where trust is all he has left …

About the Book

“For the Minds and Wills of Men” (complete at 81,000 words) is an upmarket fiction and mystery set in 1953 Manhattan with the echoes of World War II and fears of communism ever present.

With post-World War II Manhattan, abstract expressionism, and the House Un-American Activities Committee hearings as background, “For the Minds and Wills of Men” is the story of one man’s initiation into the 1950s cultural cold war— its FBI investigations and psychological warfare — through his search for a stolen Jackson Pollock.

Target Audience

“For the Minds and Wills of Men” is adult fiction for readers who like an art theft with a dose of art history exploration and political conspiracy laced with historical truth.  It’s a beach read for those who enjoy a remarkable synthesis of art, history, love, and espionage. 


Wonderfully rich story with suspense, tension, and surprising plot twists; a perfect mix of Sweet Tooth, The Gardner Heist, and The Rembrandt Affair, set in McCarthy Era Manhattan and layered with a fictional exploration of abstract expressionism as a weapon of the cold war.

Author Biography

Jeff Lanier was born and raised in Houston, Texas where he currently live with his wife and three kids. He earned a bachelor’s degree in both History and Art History at The University of Texas, Austin with a focus on the History of American Culture through Art and Literature. This is his debut novel.