on March 18, 2004
This is the first Sarah Andrews mystery I've read, starring main character Em Hansen, Forensic Geologist. I loved it so much that I'm planning to go out and buy every book of Sarah Andrew's that I can get my hands on !
The book takes place in heavily faulted Salt Lake City. Geologist (and informal investigator-in-training) 35-year-old Em Hansen is shaken awake about 4 AM by an approximate 5.3-level earthquake. She gets caught up in the two murder investigations of a geologist and a reporter who are out to expose earthquake damage in public structures, but which developers want covered up. Furthermore, we are drawn far into the Mormon world, and society, of Salt Lake City. Along the way, we also learn a lot of interesting science and geology. If you enjoy science at all, you will LOVE this whole mystery series.
I absolutely loved the main character. She has a lot of interesting friends, and an interesting, but very realistic life. In addition to this mystery, this author has a lot to say about life (through what her characters are experiencing) and gives her readers a lot to chew on.
on January 4, 2004
I'm going to have to buy the next book in the series because I'm dying to find out what happens next to detective geologist Em Hansen, particularly her love life, and I'm not normally a fan of romances. But detective Em is very likeable and the reader cares about her, and there are a couple of very interesting men in her life as the book ends.
In this mystery, Em's relationship with her boyfriend, Mormon policeman Ray, is in difficulty from the get-go. Em is not Mormon and his family is not so happy about their relationship. Then there's Emma's career -- another problem area, since she isn't actually employed (she does some temping to supplement her dwindling savings). She moved to Salt Lake City to be near her boyfriend, but has been unable to find a job.
To top it off, there's this earthquake (in the first chapter), and Em begins to suspect that some of the buildings in Salt Lake City are going to collapse if a really big earthquake hits. How is it that the authorities allowed them to be built?
Then there's the murder of a state geologist -- is it related to the earthquake or politics or both? Em gets involved in trying to discover who killed her, even as she tries to sort out her troubled relationship with her boyfriend and his family.
If I have any criticisms of the book, it is that you might end up knowing more about earthquakes and fault lines than you want to -- but you will learn quite a bit on the subject, and quite a bit about Salt Lake City and Mormons.
All in all, an entertaining, amusing, engaging, "can't put down" book. I look forward to reading more books by this author.
on February 24, 2002
The timing of this latest Em Hansen mystery makes the novel already dated but no less enjoyable for that. When a moderate 5.2 earthquake hits Salt Lake City weeks before this year's Winter Olympic Games, the local geologists, including Hansen, get excited. But when the Utah State geologist is murdered, the FBI recruits Hansen to look into the geological state of things. Coping with chronic underemployment and a rocky romance with her Mormon cop boyfriend, Hansen jumps at the chance.
Reviewing maps and tramping the terrain, Hansen discovers that her newly adopted city is riddled with faults, which the city fathers have virtually ignored. Between complacency and corruption, numerous public venues - from housing developments and malls to the spanking new stadium where the Olympics' opening ceremonies are scheduled - sit precariously on fault lines.
The murder investigation parallels Andrews' dire exploration of earthquake inevitability and its devastating effects on an unprepared populace. Greed, politics and religion wrestle with science in a story as much exposé as mystery. An engaging and forthright protagonist, Hansen's narration is interspersed with other viewpoints - a corporate villain, his trained construction geologist and an ambitious newspaper reporter among others - which heightens the suspense and the novel's scope.
on December 26, 2001
What's more exciting than an earthquake that shakes you out of bed first thing in the morning? Sarah Andrews' newest Em Hanson mystery - Fault Line - which kept me up until 2am this morning! Fault Line finds Em Hanson, out-of-work petroleum geologist and fledgling forensic geologist, living in Salt Lake City, sorting out her life. A 5.2 M earthquake on a branch of the Wasatch Fault wakes everybody up and the death of the head of the Utah Geological Survey really gets things rolling. Earthquakes aren't Em's specialty, so we join her as she learns more about the fault lines that run under Salt Lake City and through relationships and families. Cracks appear in the brand new stadium that is to be featured in the opening ceremonies of the Winter Olympics and in Em's relationship with her boyfriend Ray, Salt Lake City cop and devout Mormon. Shaky ground is found at the site of a brand new shopping mall and in the relationship of Faye, Em's best friend, and Tom Latimer, Zen FBI agent and Em's mentor in detecting. As always, Em the geologist teases out the big picture from a mess of details. Be prepared to learn a lot about seismology and engineering geology. Trips to the ski slopes in Alta, the [Flying] Pie Pizzeria, and the [beautiful] retrofitted City and County Building fill out the local color. In my opinion, this is the best Em Hanson mystery yet. On the Modified Mercalli Scale of Earthquake Intensity, XII means total destruction. On the open-ended [Gutenberg]-Richter Scale of Earthquake Magnitude, a 9.5 is the largest earthquake ever recorded. I can only give Fault Line by Sarah Andrews 5 stars, but if I could give it more, I would!
on December 18, 2001
Everyone expects earthquakes to hit the California coastline, but no one was ready for the 5.2 quake to hit Salt Lake City just weeks before the Olympic Games commence. The Utah State geologist Dr. Sidney Smeeth provides an interview that warns of damage to key structures, but the local TV stations without explanation cut off her talk.
Not long afterward, Sidney is found dead apparently a victim of a fall from the patio of her home. Though a local police matter, FBI agent Tom Latimer wants to insure that the death was not murder to cover up a geological problem that could endanger the upcoming visitors. He asks his friend Em Hansen, perhaps the only current unemployed geologist in the Salt Lake area, to evaluate and give an opinion on several Smeeth reports. However, he does not want this amateur to get involved in the actual investigation. Still Em cannot help but find the political FAULT LINES that shake the core of the city and state leaving her at the epicenter of the inquiry.
The latest Em Hansen geological mystery is the best tale to date of a marvelous series that provides the audience with strong sleuthing and interesting geological information intertwined into the story line. The plot engages the audience as Em gets involved in another mystery. The support cast provides a local flavor that enhances the lead protagonist. FAULT LINE is an amateur sleuth tale worth reading while Sarah Andrews' previous novels are worth digging up at the used bookstores.