Saturday, June 9, 2012

Fossil River

Conditions are ripe in this country for a potential energy crisis in the future.  The environmental movement has made it increasingly difficult to drill for oil. The Environmental Protection Agency has put policies in place that make it difficult for coal fired power plants to be built or to even remain open. For all of its potential, alternative forms of green energy has not proven to be a fruitful enterprise.  Any hint of unrest in the Middle East can send oil prices rising.

Fossil River by Jock Miller takes place in the relatively near future of the United States.  The country is faced with an energy crisis.  OPEC has reached a deal with China to send an increased percentage of their production their way.  Unrest in the rest of the Middle East has further reduced the supply of oil.  On top of that, a hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico has reduced dramatically US domestic production of oil.

With the strategic oil reserves set to be bone dry in a matter of weeks, the President of the United States launches an all out search for domestic supplies of oil.  As luck would have it, they find a huge oil field in a very remote area if the Noatak National Preserve in Alaska.  An all out effort is made to verify the find and to find a way to tap into that oil field to prevent the country from falling into a depression to rival the Great Depression.

The first team of scientists enter the area to try to confirm the find.  They are flown into the area by Scott Chandler, a decorated helicopter pilot of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, of the Fish & Wildlife Service.  None of the team, with the exception of Chandler, makes it out alive as they are attacked by an unknown predator.  During the attack the predator left behind feathers and a talon with blood on it.

Chandler called on the knowledge of his ex-girlfriend Kimberly Fulton who is the Curator of Paleontology at the New York Museum of Natural History.  He sends the talon and feathers to her.  She runs a series of tests on the relics and comes to the conclusion that the predator is a living fossil; a dinosaur.  She flies out to reunite Chandler to somehow find a way to access the oil field without everyone getting killed by the dinosaur and without destroying the pristine ecosystem.

I won't reveal any more about the plot of the book.  Most of this is found in the book description on Amazon.  I found it to be an exciting book.  The action was non-stop and the characters sympathetic.  There were a few things I did not like.  Some of the plot twists were easily predictable.  I also felt some of the characters, particularly the military characters, were a bit too much of a caricature.  All in all though, it was an enjoyable respite from reality.
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