I read the first book in the series featuring detective Ty Hauck, (The Dark Tide), a few years back - mostly prompted, I think, because of the author's association as a co-author of several books with James Patterson. I enjoyed it, but somehow the next two in the series got past me. Not long ago, this one - the fourth - caught my eye. It's been a long time coming for the author, too, who says this one was roughly five years in the making.
Clearly, plenty of action took place in the two previous books (some of that action is referenced in this one, which is how I know I missed out). That said, while I sort of wish I'd read those other two, reading them prior to this one really isn't necessary.
Several chapters in, though, I began to wonder if I'd picked up the right book; the illustrious Mr. Hauck was nowhere to be found. It begins as whitewater guide Dani Whalen finds the body of a good friend in the water, an apparent kayaking accident. Dani isn't so sure that's the case, especially when a local character named Rooster - who runs a hot air balloon operation - tells her he saw something. He'll meet her the next morning to spill the beans, he says, but he never makes it. He, and the two couples he's taken up in a balloon, inexplicably fall from the sky to their deaths before he and Dani can get together.
Another accident? Yes, according to the local police chief, who also is Dani's stepfather. He insists that she back off and leave the investigation to the professionals. But Dani is stubborn; when she threatens to go to the newspapers with her suspicions, her stepfather throws her in jail, notifying her biological dad of her whereabouts. Her father, in turn, is a friend of Ty's (who also happens to be Dani's godfather), so he gives Ty a call to go get her.
All of this means that 16 chapters go by before Ty makes an appearance. Once he hears her concerns, he's skeptical, but in it to win it. When he and Dani do some sleuthing around, they find that the folks in the small Colorado town, mostly farmers and ranchers, are (as the book description says) "selling their souls to the devil" by selling their much-needed water to a huge energy company for use in its local fracking operation (how's that for a timely hot-button issue)?
Butting heads with the big guns puts Ty, Dani and a few others in mortal danger on more than one occasion and pits them against local powers-that-be who are unwilling to jeopardize what has become an extremely lucrative arrangement. Will they get to the bottom of what's going on and nail whoever's responsible for all those deaths before they end up dead as well?
You'll just have to read it for yourself to find out the answer to that question.
One Mile Under by Andrew Gross (William Morrow, April 2015); 400 pp.