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February 04 , 2010

The Earthquake Lady


A brutal murder at Gideon Marshall’s upscale liberal arts college in Iowa remains unsolved.

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The Language of Plants

It is only in the age of technology that human beings have lost a sense of nature being alive. Throughout history, people spoke to nature, and nature communicated with them. During the Middle Ages, reading the book of nature was called the doctrine of signatures, which had always been an important part of interacting with nature for traditional…

A Department of Criminal Investigation detective and the Polk County medical examiner show up in Marshall’s office on a bleak Friday afternoon with the victim’s autopsy report, a box of plastic bags, and a request to determine the origin of dirt samples. Paleontologist Marshall is about to become a crucial prosecution witness because of his ability to identify materials in those bags. The DCI request sends Marshall and his wife Mykala on an adventure that begins with concealed carry training and weapons purchase, continues on a trek through Oklahoma oil fields posing as inspectors, and ends with an arrest that is certain to bring Marshall into direct confrontation with Big Oil, Big Money, and the Department of Defense.

THE EARTHQUAKE LADY is the third Gideon Marshall Mystery. The stories center around the potential danger of scientific discoveries and the sometimes eccentric lives of people who make them. Marshall is dragged into efforts by various people to control the discoveries of a genius-level scientist, a former faculty member in his department, this unhappy woman—Rebecca Stitcher—who was the murder victim. Stitcher’s theoretical research in geology could empower a nation to produce ideal weapons of mass destruction, namely large volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, and tsunamis occurring at times and places chosen on purpose. Needless to say, there many people interested in this possibility, and all of them eventually descend on Gideon Marshall’s small liberal arts college in Iowa. As Marshall’s perceptive wife Mykala says to him: “Gideon, it’s just beginning.”

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