The prolific retired Air Force officer, a top aviation-thriller writer and often hugely entertaining (see Medusa’s Child, 1997), charges up his latest white-knuckler with earthquakes and helicopters.
Guilt-ridden engineer and whistleblower Diane Lacombe, daughter of California State Senator Ralph Lacombe, has a CD that proves her company, Chadwick and Noble, is at fault in green-lighting Mick Walker’s big, new $100-million casino, hotel, and convention center on Cascadia Island off the Washington coast. Hey, it’s being built on a seismic fault absolutely certain to collapse under the weight of the new structures now about to open. Some time ago, Seattle seismologist Doug Lam of the US Geological Survey declared there was a massive potential earthquake deep within Cascadia Island’s small, rocky mass. But someone’s ransacked Diane’s apartment and she’s on the run with her incriminating CD. Planning to fly guests to Cascadia is Seattle’s Jennifer Lindsrom, president of Nightingale Aviation, a major helicopter company she inherited from her father—and she has a medivac company attached to Nightingale. Aside from her MBA, Jennifer’s a graduate nurse, a helpful skill with a medivac service named after Florence Nightingale. The first 5.1 tremor begins 26 kilometers beneath the ocean floor 39 miles offshore, travels to Puget Sound and the Cascade Mountains, and causes a tiny shift in the ground in Seattle. The first big quake hits the port town of Bellingham during fog too soupy for rescue helicopters to land. Then the ferry to Cascadia starts sinking with a hundred inaugural guests aboard. Part of the hotel collapses, and so do other buildings as a series of cataclysmic quakes threatens to spread through the Northwest. Cascadia Island is about to sink, with a 70-foot tsunami coming that will wash everything away, back up the Columbia River for six months, kill thousands, and knock out several port cities and towns. Unless—and there’s one distant chance to alter this course of events—unless Doug can . . . but you know enough already.
Nance does it again, thrill upon thrill.