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Environmental Thriller

Seattle Quake 9.2 – Marti Talbott

“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!

Review: One Second After by William R. Forstchen

One Second After“Unfortunately, the cyber threat to ‘the grid’ is only one means of eviscerating the soft underbelly of American society. Another which has been getting increasing attention could be delivered via the kind of nuclear-armed ballistic missile that Iran and North Korea have been developing: a strategic electro-magnetic pulse attack.” –Frank Gaffney

It starts out as a normal day.

Then, a high-altitude nuclear bomb of uncertain origin explodes over the United States. And suddenly, there will never again be a ‘normal day’.

Retired army colonel John Matherson teaches college, raises two daughters, and grieves the loss of his wife to cancer. Now, John must do everything he can to save his family as society begins to fail around them. John rushes to the drug store immediately. After all, his type-one diabetic 12-year-old will desperately need her insulin – and with the highways jammed with vehicles that no longer run, pharmaceutical companies that can no longer produce drugs, getting the insulin will be imperative. But there is only so much available – and after that?

Deaths start with heart attacks and eventually escalate alarmingly. Food becomes scarce, and societal breakdown proceeds with inevitable violence; towns burn, people are murdered for supplies, and roving gangs begin terrorizing towns where people have come together to help one another survive.

One Second After may not really be the “best book I have ever read” for its literary merit. Yes, it is well written, well scripted, and realistic in tone and writing style. What makes it the “best” is how REAL it is. America is, as is readily admitted by our government and military, NOT ready for an EMP. And should the blast actually occur, I can absolutely see exactly the outcome as envisioned by Forstchen. A total breakdown of everything that we, today, take as being the human condition. Forstchen does not paint a totally black picture – people do come together to help one another survive, moving back to the agrarian society of old, relying on one another to survive, bartering and helping. But there is also the black and bitter side of humanity.

This book should be REQUIRED reading for every single person in this country. Once it happens —

It’s too late.

Review: The Enigma Strain by Nick Thacker

The Enigma Strain (Harvey Bennett #1)“We know we cannot underestimate the importance of emergency planning in our region, nor can we assume we’ll have ample warning time. If an earthquake or terrorist attack hits, we won’t necessarily have advance alerts or opportunities to double- and triple-check our plans”. – Ellen Tauscher

“The purpose of terrorism lies not just in the violent act itself. It is in producing terror. It sets out to inflame, to divide, to produce consequences which they then use to justify further terror.” – Tony Blair

“This country values freedom, but you and I both know that ‘freedom’ is a joke. We’re somewhere between a third-world country with a corrupt government and an overbearing corporation on the scale of how free we really are. Americans now hold on to every scrap of ‘freedom’ they can find, including their own individuality –“ Nick Thacker, The Enigma Strain

Harvey “Ben” Bennett, Yellowstone Ranger, has had a crummy day. First, the worst kind of campers created a huge mess at their campsite – then are all bent out of shape when Mo the Grizzly shows up. Good ol’ Mo, he knows where the easy goodies are. Stupid, messy, complaining psudo-campers, ruining the sanctity of the ecosystem. Bah. Now, Ben has to haul Mo up to the northern end of the park, far away from the campsite areas, and ignorant tourists. This is Mo’s third strike – if he wanders back to populated areas, he winds up on death row. All because tourists can’t keep from treating the park like Disneyland, complete with throwing their trash on the ground.

But when Ben and Carlos Rivera haul Mo north, they run into more than they expected. A monstrous explosion, complete with mushroom cloud, causes an earthquake that drops Carlos into a chasm in the Earth. Now, a red dust cloud hangs over Yellowstone – a cloud of death. As people begin to die, Ben finds himself partnered with Julie Richardson, a specialist with the Biological Threat Research Division of the Centers for Disease Control as they chase the origin of what appears to be a synthetic, airborne virus. A virus that, if released across the US, could cause near total destruction. But that isn’t the only terrorist action that is planned. For the explosion in Yellowstone may only be the first – and if the caldera under Yellowstone blows, the United States will turn into a wasteland.

There is action aplenty in The Enigma Strain. Ben and Julie are realistic characters, well developed and designed, and the people they run up against, from self-centered management personnel to soulless terrorists and guns for hire are also well rendered, though tend towards ‘over-the-top’. As with my review of Thacker’s The Depths, I find myself disappointed with the obvious continuity issues. Editorial issues are not as bad as in The Depths, but I find continuity issues to be tremendously aggravating – especially when it changes the character of the actors, their mental, intellectual and psychological actions and capabilities. Hard right turns in intellectual levels are infuriating.

The ideas are on the edge, but frighteningly believable in these days of worldwide terrorism. It was a fun read overall, and worth the time spent. The infusion of historical events gave the book the extra ‘kick’ it needed to encourage the excitement level.

I receive this book from the publisher in exchange for a realistic review. All thoughts are my own.

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