F. David Rinehart’s new novel follows a pair of lovers as they race to avert a disaster in Yellowstone National Park.
Thomas Jackson, “the world’s leading subterranean aquifer expert,” is minding his own business when the Army Corps of Engineers spirits him off to a military base for a top-secret mission. There, he’s tasked with preventing a volcano eruption in Yellowstone that’s likely to wipe out most of the United States in the next several months. Working with him is Catherine Craft, a disaster response expert to whom Thomas is instantly attracted and vice versa.
Thomas quickly devises a way to prevent the catastrophe. But powerful interests have a hand in the current crisis – and are determined to thwart its resolution. Facing potentially deadly opposition, Thomas and Catherine must bring the malefactors to justice in time.
Disaster for Sale begins with the premise of a great techno-thriller, particularly relevant in our age of increasing natural disasters. The novel’s execution, however, is problematic. The writing style is frequently verbose, particularly around over-attributed dialogue such as this: “Derek says ‘Charles is dead.’ Catherine gasps. ‘What happened?’ Derek answers, ‘I don’t know.’ Catherine says, ‘It doesn’t sound like there’s much I can do.’ Derek brings trouble to Catherine, saying, ‘Your family name and wealth are in danger.’”
The novel also fails to maintain focus. The looming volcanic eruption often feels like an afterthought compared to the sometimes-irrational ups and downs of Thomas and Catherine’s relationship. Additionally, the book contains numerous explicit sex scenes and passages of sex-heavy dialogue. Although plenty of thrillers have sexy or romantic aspects, in Disaster for Sale this content is awkward and unrelenting. Readers may feel as though they’ve picked up a romance or erotica novel rather than the adventure story promised on the back cover and opening pages.
While it contains the seed of a good idea, Disaster for Sale needs substantial revision before it will appeal to a general audience.
Also available in hardcover.