Antsy for something to do while her staunch Mormon cop boyfriend Ray is on the job, tetchy, unemployed forensic geologist Em Hansen (Bone Hunter, 1999, etc.) succumbs to the pleas of FBI honcho Tom Latimer, a master manipulator, and agrees to accompany him on a recon. Soon she’s prying into the death of Pat Gilmore, an independent biologist at work on an environmental impact statement focusing on an endangered species of mouse for Gloriana Mines and its subsidiary in desolate Winnemucca, Nevada. In short order, Don MacCallum, hired to find new gold deposits, disappears; his partner Kyle loafs, then hits on Em; mantrap geologist Laurel Dietz reconstructs MacCallum's survey maps and is whisked off to company headquarters; Sam, a rank-smelling squatter, is beaned and left to die; Umberto Rodriguez, a smarmy Ph.D. scientist, dies in a truck driven down a mine shaft; gold prices plummet; a blind woman and an Indian sensitive conspire but with differing agendas; a rich gal pilot flies jewels to Denver; and those endangered mice turn out to be multiplying like rabbits. Bad guys run rampant in environmental law, the Office of Land Management, and the mine developers’ boardroom, leading to plot twists as plentiful as that ubiquitous mouse.
Sprawling as the Nevada desert, with far too many interesting but digressive professorial discourses on earth science, Indian meditation, twin-engine piloting, and century-old land bills.