Mother Nature

Sarah Andrews, Author
Sarah Andrews, Author St. Martin's Press $23.95 (342p) ISBN 978-0-312-15591-9
Mass Market Paperbound - 352 pages - 978-0-312-96616-4
Ebook - 352 pages - 978-1-4668-3980-9
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Geologist and amateur detective Em Hansen returns (after A Fall in Denver, 1995) in a complex and engaging mystery involving the environmental services industry in northern California. Unemployed and grieving deeply over her father's recent death, Em uneasily accepts an assignment from an officious and abrasive U.S. senator from California to investigate the murder of his daughter, Janet, a geologist whose bruised body was found in a roadside ditch. Em temporarily leaves Denver for Santa Rosa, Calif., where Janet had worked for an environmental services company, removing underground gasoline tanks that were contaminating the ground water. Identifying with Janet by wearing her clothes and infiltrating the company where she worked, Em soon becomes embroiled in an environmental firestorm involving the local water board, a steely-eyed developer, the strange family who own the land where Janet was found, a group of ditsy New Age women and the increasingly creepy and unforthcoming senator. Game but sometimes naive (so much so that she almost gets murdered herself), Em uses a combination of scientific method and intuition to solve the case. Andrews brilliantly describes this part of California with its flat, straight country roads bordered by deep ditches that underscore the relentless threat of flooding. Snappy dialogue and fully realized characters, especially the immensely appealing Em, turn the field of geology into a fascinating background for mystery. (June)
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