Book Title: Hydrocarbon
Part of Series: Integra, Run! , Ransom, Tsunami, Hydrocarbon , Lost!, Population, Meteor Impact , Recovery! , Virus
Author: Nicole Stuart
Available at: Smashwords
Number of words (approximately): 77 114
Star Rating (of five): Four
Summary: Jeff meets Dianne, a chemical analyst, at a lake, and see how a fiberglass boat dissolves in the water. They investigate and find that a bacterial infestation of the water has occurred. The bacteria consume any form of hydrocarbon, threatening to destroy almost every modern product while generating masses of Carbon Dioxide gas that will precipitate an irreversible climate change. They find a business partner with the imagination and power to support their campaign to eradicate the infestation, in the face of opposition from an extremist religious organization that sees it as an Act of God.
- They walked on, silent now, until they could see their car. They angled off to approach the road some distance behind the car. At first glance, all appeared to be clear. Resisting the urge to go to the car immediately, they stayed in the shelter of the bushes, and watched for another minute.
“Look over there, under that big tree to the right of the car!” Dianne hissed very quietly, and pointed. Jim looked where she indicated, and saw the shape of a man lying in the shadow of the tree. They watched a few seconds longer, and saw how the man shifted his weight, lifting a hunting rifle to a more comfortable position. Jim indicated to Dianne that they should withdraw a little. They moved back into a depression, out of sight of the road. He put his mouth close to her ear and whispered.
“They have set an ambush for us, and they’re armed! We can’t take any chances.” She nodded her agreement. “I’ll go back up the road a short distance, and see if I can break into their car. If I can, I’ll create a diversion. If that man moves away, you can throw the container into my car and drive off. I’ll meet you further down the road, out of sight of the men there!” Dianne nodded again. Jim fished the keys to his car out of his pocket, and handed them to her, then giving her a quick kiss, he crawled away to the left.
He encountered the road about three hundred yards further on, and quickly saw a car parked behind a bush. It matched the description that Susan had given. Jim memorised the registration number, and saw the fish symbol next to the back light. ‘A reborn Christian!’ he thought. He looked carefully around the area, but could see no one. He crawled carefully closer, taking care not to make any sound, until he was across the road from the car. Taking a chance, he lifted up, then sprinted silently across the road to the car. There was no sound. Looking inside the car, he saw that the keys were in the ignition switch. He grinned to himself. ‘They’re obviously amateurs’ he thought. He eased the door open, and slid in, holding the door slightly ajar. Gathering himself, he started the engine and reversed the car swiftly from its concealment. When he was on the road, he engaged drive, and accelerated down the road. When he reached the position where his car was parked, he swung the wheel to drive over the low bushes alongside the road, intending to give his car a wide clearance. To his astonishment, two men jumped clear of the car as it hurtled down on them. He corrected the steering and returned to the road, accelerating past his car. The man who had been concealed under the tree jumped up and joined his companions as they ran after their car. Jim drove around the sharp bend in the road, seeing that the road straightened and ran down a long slope. Jim looked quickly around the car for a weight, finding a full six-pack of beer. He picked that up, and saw that it held a bunch of papers down on the seat. He braked quickly, slowing enough to exit the car, grabbed the bunch of papers, then jammed the six-pack on the accelerator pedal, keeping his foot pressed on the brake pedal. He swung the door open and rolled out of the car as it speeded up. The door slammed shut behind him as he hit the grass at the side of the road, rolling to absorb the energy of his forward motion. He rolled into the bushes, and lay there in concealment as the three men came running past him, obviously hoping to catch the car as it turned into the hairpin bend at the bottom of the slope. As soon as they were past, Jim lifted himself to his feet, and sprinted back up the slope, around the bend that had concealed him from the men. He soon reached the place where he had parked the car, to find that Dianne was sitting in the driver’s seat, the can of water on the back seat floor. Jim jumped in, and Dianne started the engine and raced down the road in the direction opposite to that the men had taken. In the distance, they heard a dull thump that indicated that the other car had run off the road and hit something solid.
“That will keep them out of action for a while!” he said with satisfaction.
Structure: As always, Nicole Stuart’s books are examples of how an eBook should be formatted – easy to read, smoothly flowing, and well-written with good use of language.
Content: The hydrocarbon-eating bacteria in the book are based on a type of bacteria that actually existed in pre-historic times. The amount of destruction that such bacteria could wreak in the modern world is almost beyond imagination. The methods used by the characters to counter the threat are all scientifically possible, and the book turns the potential disaster into an opportunity, as do so many of Nicole Stuart’s characters.
Reviewer’s Comments: Nicole Stuart does it again! This is another of her books that demand your attention from the first page to the last, leaving you, at the end, with many questions and thoughts in your mind: How would you react?
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and the people in it.