A man-made earthquake is at the epicenter of a dull thud of a thriller. Richard Granger’semi-reformed thief, occasional murderer, practicing guru—heads a cult hunkered down in an idyllic California valley. The cult, in fact, has been hunkered down for 25 long years, making wine and babies and fashioning a life free of the crassness seen as endemic to capitalist America. But now the valley is threatened with extinction. It’s The Guv’ment! It’s nuclear testing! It’s a situation that cannot be tolerated, decides Granger, who sets about stealing something called a seismic vibrator. This, in addition to generating a fair number of wink-wink, nudge-nudge jokes throughout the story, is the piece of equipment needed to implement a counter threat, the artificial earthquake. You use the vibrator to pound the earth at strategic places along a sensitive fault line—places that can be identified by any well-disposed seismologist, one such happening to be the cult member who is Granger’s lover. The Guv’ment is duly warned: Cease nuclear testing, Granger advises via a talk-radio show, or watch while we make a disaster. Enter Judy Maddox, a sprightly young FBI agent with obligatory great body and groovy brain. With her comes hunkish Michael Quercus, seismologist for the good guys. Then, this being the kind of novel it is, also enter some nasty, plot-thickening office politics. Tension heightens when the cult (a.k.a. the Hammer of Eden) demonstrates that its capability is for real. And next time, Granger promises, we won’t be wreaking havoc on some worthless expanse of uninhabited desert. But will there be a next time? Will there be a showdown/shootout? Will there be a clinch at the end? Pat, predictable, relentlessly formulaic. Still, Follett’s (The Third Twin, 1996, etc.) eager and ample following will no doubt come through again.