“We’re going away. Pack your shit, folks. We’re going away. And we won’t leave much of a trace, either. Maybe a little Styrofoam … The planet’ll be here and we’ll be long gone. Just another failed mutation. Just another closed-end biological mistake. An evolutionary cul-de-sac. The planet’ll shake us off like a bad case of fleas.” – George Carlin

Seattle Quake 9.2 (A Jackie Harlan Mystery)It seems so innocuous at first. A tremble here. A bump there. Maybe a book falls off a shelf, or you notice the water in your glass rippling. So innocuous.

And then the world explodes. The earth falls and rises, buildings fall. Car alarms. House alarms. And the screams. Screams of terror, screams of pain. And the earth continues to fall and rise. Louder. Harder. Violence and noise and horror, as buildings crash to the earth, fires burst out the ground as gas mains shatters. And the water begins to pull away from the shore, faster and faster . . . and then, for a moment, silence falls . . . the earth stills . . . and then, the water comes. And death has only just begun.

Again and again, the earth roars out in pain, death roars rampant over the earth. And the horror has only just begun.

9.2 on the Richter Scale. The size of the 1964 Alaska quake, give or take a percentage point. But you see, the Alaska quake was centered in an area with a tiny population along Prince William Sound and Kodiak Island. 115 people in Alaska died, as well as 16 people in Oregon and California. Wooden structures were all that stood in the way of the quake and the following tsunami, and most were away for the holidays.

Now, take that 9.2 quake and plop it right in the middle of Seattle. It sits, you see, on top of one of the largest faults in the world. Concrete and glass skyscrapers. The Sound. Lakes and rivers. And a population of approximately 662,000 people in an area of 83 square miles. Add a beautiful Saturday afternoon, a rare sunshiny Saturday afternoon at that, with everyone out and about, playing along the waterfront. And the devastation? Well, ‘incalculable’ doesn’t begin to touch the outcome.

Marti Talbott takes us into the middle of the destruction, basing her story upon a small group of people caught in the quake and doing their best to survive and find their loved ones. And upon the actions of a group of heroes I honestly didn’t know truly existed any longer. Ham radio operators. As we listen to their conversations, as they work to gather information, to get help where it is most needed, and to be the heart that listens to the agony, I was absolutely blown away by the strength and courage of people who, with no government support and no funding work themselves to exhaustion to save lives. Yes, I sat here and didn’t move, turning pages on my reader obsessively until the end. Yes, I should be working, but I just couldn’t put it down!

This is the first of Talbott’s “Jackie Harlan Mysteries” and I completely enjoyed it. There are others, though I don’t know if I would be interested in reading them or not. They are based on a detective agency that searches for missing persons. In this case the missing person in question was a big part of the storyline as she and her two companions fight to survive, both during and in the aftermath of the quake. The others seem to be more, well, ‘missing heiress’ and ‘greedy mistress’ stuff, which doesn’t ring my bells. The blurbs describe people I don’t think I would enjoy reading about. Stick “Billionaire” in the description and it turns me off, honestly. I mean, really? How many people’s lives did said ‘billionaire’ destroy to gain more money than he could ever spend in a lifetime? Don’t really care if he is trying to find the kid of the maid he knocked up.

But this one? This one is awesome! And FREE, at that, so grab it while you can!