Concerns over the vulnerability of the nation’s oil supply rose two summers ago in the wake of the devastating hurricanes that struck along the Gulf Coast. Oil production and processing was severely impacted with resulting shortages across the nation. As soon as normal operations returned, the fragile state of U.S. energy production and processing faded from public view as media attention shifted elsewhere. It is against such a backdrop, that author L. A. Starks has crafted an interesting, though at times excessively technical, thriller.

Executive Vice President Lynn Dayton convinced her bosses to buy Centennial Refinery right before it landed in bankruptcy court. A group of current management had wanted to buy it as well but when their funding didn’t come through, the door was open for outsiders to take over. They did and Lynn Dayton and her company is somewhat resented by the employees. That isn’t her concern though as she has just four short weeks left to finish the refit and prove to the board that her argument to buy the plant was worth it to the bottom line of the parent company.

Then people start dying. Not just employees at her refinery but at other ones up and down the Houston Ship Channel. Houston Police start to come out more and more to Centennial as the refinery along with neighboring plants begin to experience a series of freak accidents.  The casualties in terms of the dead and injured and losses in production steadily mount while all involved are unable to stop it. As hurricane season brings a storm of steadily increasing strength on a deadly course towards Centennial, Lynn Davis is forced to not only save her employees and her refinery, she is also forced into a life or death struggle to save her family.

This is an enjoyable and interesting thriller that showcases too well the current and ongoing vulnerability regarding U. S. oil production and processing. When the author focuses on the story itself, the novel moves forward at a steady pace. Lynn Dalton is an interesting character, as are several others, despite the fact that as in most thrillers, character development is rather limited.

Oil production and processing is a highly complex subject and the author draws upon her long career in the industry to write what she knows. Clearly she knows the subject matter.  In addition to a brief “notes for understanding” at the beginning of the book, terms defined at beginnings of chapters, there are large sections devoted to detailed descriptive narrative in the mode of a Tom Clancy novel. The read grinds to a complete halt as the point in the process is described in great detail.

Once the description is finished, the pace again picks back up and the result is an overall enjoyable read. The premise works, as do the character situations and the book resolves everything by the end without leaving any story threads hanging. Clearly a statement book, the author conveys real world concerns while delivering a good story worthy reading.


By L. A Starks

www.lastarksbooks.comBrown Books Publishing Group

ISBN # 1-933285-45-1


368 Pages

Kevin R. Tipple © 2008

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