cover image Winter in the Heart

Winter in the Heart

David Poyer / Author Tor Books $21.95 (350p) ISBN 978-0-312-85

Poyer, whose sea-based adventure tales ( The Gulf ) have earned him a large audience (and three million books in print) comes ashore with this absorbing tale in which three unlikely heroes battle corporate depravity and industrial abuse in rural Pennsylvania. Heading into town from his remote cabin in the woods, crusty septuagenarian W. T. Halvorsen, a retired oil driller, is splashed with contaminated snow and becomes so sick he must be hospitalized. Several other local residents have mysterious ailments as well; it turns out that someone has been dumping toxic waste in the area. Halvorsen takes action to protect his home, enlisting the help of Phil Romanelli, a bright but troubled high school senior, and Jaysine Farmer, the discarded mistress of Thunder Oil Company's dangerously amoral CEO. The stakes escalate as powerful figures in the community, the federal government and organized crime bring pressure to cover up the scandal. The future of the community and, eventually, Halvorsen's life are at stake. Poyer enlivens this courtroom thriller with vividly imagined and deftly rendered characters, each one possessing real depth and a credible place in the story's richly evoked milieu. Although the plot developments eventually become farfetched, careful pacing and colorful prose will keep readers swiftly turning the pages. ( June )