Unemployed forensic geologist Em Hansen (An Eye for Gold, 2000, etc.) is stewing in her Salt Lake City bedsit about the whereabouts of her devout Mormon boyfriend Ray when her best chum, trust-fund baby Faye Carter, calls and wails she needs her. Faye’s pregnant, her FBI lover Tom Latimer is discombobulated about it, and the TV blaring to distract them cuts off state geologist Sidney Smeeth midsentence as she’s pointing at the site of the upcoming winter Olympics, the Town Center stadium, unwisely built directly over the Wasatch Fault, which has just rumbled to a 5.2 on the Richter Scale. Smeeth is soon murdered; so is a science reporter covering her death; and Em’s stuck mopping up Faye’s morning sickness, offering her romantic counseling, ducking the barbs of Ray’s nasty, hyperambitious sister Katie, and looking over survey plans for Tom and the FBI, trying to find something amiss. Katie’s husband Enos and his boss, developer Micah Hayes, are covering up stadium welding defects—and worse—and if Em weren’t so worried about Ray’s continued absence, she’d realize her geological expertise, new earth-scientist friendships, and unsubtle snooping have put her in danger despite the best efforts of FBI field agent Jack Sampler to protect her. When Ray finally pops by, his cop instincts are overwhelmed by the collision of Katie, Enos, Em, and his mom.
Andrews, a geology instructor at Sonoma State University, offers excellent tutelage on debris flow, fault scarps, seismic retrofits, crust slippage, and geologic hazards. Now if she could just get Em to lighten up, she might find a boyfriend worthy of her.