cover image Project Namahana

Project Namahana

John Teschner. Forge, $27.99 (304p) ISBN 978-1-250-82719-7

Teschner’s exceptional debut, a hard-edged eco-thriller, matches strong characters with a bold plot that fulfills its potential. Micah Bernt, who left the U.S. Army under a cloud, somehow avoided serious punishment, despite being charged with maltreating detainees, assault, and indecent acts. He’s trying for a new start on a remote Hawaiian island, where he’s taking a community college class and working as a salesman. Then his landlord, Clifton Moniz, turns up dead in the ocean, apparently an accidental drowning victim. Moniz’s death may be linked to another tragedy—the recent drowning of three local boys. Bernt’s unofficial investigation alternates with a look at the covert machinations of Benevoment Seed, a powerful international corporation that produces Efloxiflam, “the bestselling lawn care product in history.” Benevoment has been testing a successor product, which may be causing deadly pollution on the island’s Namahana Mountain. Michael Lindstrom, the executive in charge, is torn between his obligations to his employer and his sense of morality, and he winds up in an unlikely partnership with Bernt. The action builds to a satisfying resolution that doesn’t pull punches and is true to the book’s spirit of portraying a less-than-postcard-perfect image of Hawaii. Jon McGoran fans will hope for more from this talented author. (June)