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Forensic geologist Emily Hansen has come to Salt Lake City to see her lover and perhaps to marry him. But before she makes the decision, she is manipulated by FBI agent Tom Latimer into investigating a possibly fraudulent gold-mining operation on federal land. Another geologist is missing, and a scientist charged with assessing the environmental impact of proposed new drilling operations is dead in what appears to Em to be murder rather than an accident.
Author Sarah Andrews's strength is her feeling for the arid landscape of Utah and Nevada. She is somewhat shakier in describing her heroine's conflicted emotions about her problematic romantic attachment and the strong sense of autonomy that leads her to take Latimer's bait and get involved in the case. The physical landscape is brilliantly evoked, while the territory of the heart has more subtle boundaries that draw the reader in to a rather convoluted plot. This is the sixth outing for Em, and Andrews's fans will follow her anywhere, even through the detailed and somewhat tedious scientific and geological explanations about mining and a barely more compelling explication of gold's timeless allure. The minor characters are more interesting than many of the central figures: a Paiute shaman, a wealthy woman who pilots her own plane, and the upright Mormon policeman whose proposal provokes Em's exploration into her own inner world. Readers can expect to find out more about him in Em's next outing. --Jane Adams --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Following on the heels of the successful Bone Hunter (1999), this new mystery featuring forensic geologist Em Hansen is a disappointment, with too little plot and too much discourse on hard-rock mining. A scattershot beginning introduces an overabundance of characters. Then, instead of getting to the meat of the story, the author focuses on Hansen hemming and hawing about whether she should help FBI agent Tom Latimer on a case concerning Granville Resources, a gold-mining company, or hang out with her handsome Mormon boyfriend, Ray. This dithering seems pretty coy once she's fully involved in Tom's investigation. Hansen spends an awful lot of time crisscrossing deserts in planes and in her truck, looking into potential irregularities about permits, claims and other dealings between the suspect Granville Resources and the federal Bureau of Land Management. During most of this period, she's kept in the dark about the nature of the case, as is the reader. After 300 pages of random speculations and false starts, the plot finally begins to heat up, but at this point it's too late. Much of the information about the gold market, the history of mining and refining techniques is fascinating, but taken all together, it's oppressive and overwhelms the scrap of story line underneath. In a closing author's note, Andrews discusses some of the moral issues raised by mining and the depletion of our natural resources. Agent, Deborah Schneider. (Sept.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.