Samuel Marquis’ topical thriller introduces Joe Higheagle, a Colorado geologist and environmental consultant.
The book begins as Joe and his grandfather, Cheyenne Chief John Higheagle, observe a fossil dig and Joe’s powerful client joins them unexpectedly. Charles Quantrill grew up in poverty but now runs Quantrill Ventures, a successful green energy firm.
Suddenly, a powerful earthquake strikes the excavation site. All escape the devastation, but Charles’ brother Jeb, who works for Quantrill Ventures, is worried that Quantrill isn’t as “green” as it seems. He fears the hazardous waste the company has been secretly pumping underground might have caused the earthquake. Soon Joe, too, realizes the company is hiding something. With his grandfather and officials from the National Earthquake Information Center and EPA, Joe investigates Quantrill’s shady dealings.
Meanwhile, Charles wants to maintain his company’s profits and reputation at any cost. The closer Joe and his comrades get to the truth, the more desperate Charles gets to keep them quiet – permanently if necessary.
Blind Thrust makes good use of Marquis’ background as a professional geologist, particularly in NEIC workers’ discussions of the quake and Joe’s investigation of a mysterious leak on Quantrill Ventures property. It is the novel’s characters, however, that really stand out. Charles Quantrill is far from a cardboard villain. He endangers the local population, threatens those who get too close to the truth (eventually hiring a hit man to take them out) and even betrays his own brother. But he never does these things mindlessly or without remorse.
As for the heroes, Joe and John have a particularly endearing rapport. Whether they’re discussing the danger Joe’s investigation might bring or teasing each other about their respective love lives, their banter is both amusing and natural. Even the romance between Joe and an EPA engineer, which feels a bit forced at the outset, soon grows believable and appealing.
For suspense fans who enjoy science mixed with their thrills, Blind Thrust offers page-turning pleasures.