NO WAY OUT—so says the note in the pocket of the murdered mayor.
The volcano beneath her town is seething, and the fate of Mammoth Lakes now rests in the hands of emergency planner Adrian Krom. But Krom has his own agenda.
Investigating the case, forensic geologist Cassie Oldfield tracks mineral clues to discover how the mayor died–and what she found. As the volcano moves toward red alert, Cassie races to prevent ‘no way out’ from becoming a prophecy.
*** ScienceThrillers.com Review ***
Volcano Watch is a must-read for anyone who is fascinated by volcanoes, or just likes a well-written mystery with a small town setting and characters whose lives have been intertwined since childhood. I couldn’t put this one down (and that’s not normal for me)… this book easily matches the quality of most traditionally published thrillers.
Forensic geology–picking clues from the mud in a murder victim’s boot, for example, to determine where she last walked on earth–is really cool and just enough of the subject is conveyed here to please the reader.
Character development is rich, with several town residents who leap out of the page…. And I have to say that in terms of character, the scene with the morphine injection rocked; if you read this book you’ll know what I mean.
The first half of Volcano Watch is structured like a mystery, and the tone is brooding as Cassie mourns the loss of a friend while the geologists monitor the volcano in anticipation of raising the watch status… The latter part of the book turns into pure thriller with enough heat and ash for any action fan.
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
I had already established my forensic geology series and was looking for a great setting and subject for the second book. I knew the Mammoth Lakes area from skiing and hiking trips—and then I learned that I had been skiing and hiking on a volcano that was showing signs of resurgence. What more could I ask for? I sent my geologists to dig into mystery and murder, with a volcano ramping up.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
My protagonists are forensic geologists, which means they examine earth evidence at crime scenes—and that takes them into the field and into danger. I like the dynamic of a young headstrong professional and her older, wiser mentor.
Cassie is in her late twenties, attractive although not a major head-turner, smart (got to solve those crimes), strong in mind and body but not kick-ass (must survive threats, but believably), trusting and thus often vulnerable, dedicated to doing right but sometimes getting things wrong, prone to make a joke when things get tense, bit of a nerd.
Walter is in his sixties, face like an eroding cliff, smart and occasionally wise, overcoming a small stroke and not as strong as he thinks (he thinks he’s kick-ass), loyal to a fault and thus often vulnerable, dedicated to doing right but sometimes getting things wrong and loathe to admit it, can’t make a joke to save his life but loves to laugh, too old to be called a nerd.
Walter is partly based on a real-world forensic geologist, who was kind enough to show me around his lab and teach me the basics. He was working on a case of a murder victim found at a beach, and showed me how he could analyze a single grain of sand with the scanning electron microscope. All the while quoting William Blake’s “to see a world in a grain of sand.” Part scientist, part poet.
Cassie isn’t based on any real-life person. I might have saddled her with a few of my own vulnerabilities. 🙂
Toni Dwiggins is a third-generation Californian who migrated from southern Cal to northern Cal. What she likes most about her state is that one can go from the ocean to the mountains in one day, with a lunch stop in the desert. She likes it so much she has chosen those settings for her forensic geology books. These stories feature a young woman and her father-figure mentor, who analyze earth evidence to solve crimes and crises–and in the process get entangled in outdoor adventure and thrills.
Have you read this book or others by this author? Tell us in the comments how you liked it!