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MEDIA REVIEWS

Jun 8, 2007

Link to article

First-time author writes on-your-toes thriller


“Wet Desert” by Gary Hansen (Holeshotpress.com, $14.95)

TODAY IS AN EXCITING FIRST for Regional Reads, as we introduce first-time author Gary Hansen to the world. Debut book, first review — exciting because this is an author who has an incredible future in front of him if he continues to write with the same verve and savvy as “Wet Desert.” We are especially excited to draw attention to this author because he has many Cache Valley ties, which you will be able to read about at a later date in an upcoming author profile. Remember, you heard about it first right here in Cache Magazine!

This book has been compared with “The Monkey Wrench Gang,” written in 1975 by Edward Abby and being made into a movie scheduled for release in 2008, since both deal with eco-terrorism, the Colorado River, and the blowing up of the Glen Canyon Dam. However, the differences make “Wet Desert” a standout on its own, and will no doubt be enjoyed by many of the same people.

Grant Stevens, a middle-management engineer for the Bureau of Reclamation, is licking his wounds from being cheated out of trip to Kenya to participate in a weeklong international symposium on dam building, when all heck breaks loose. All the big-wigs are at the symposium, and his direct supervisor is vacationing in Yellowstone with his family. This leaves Grant in charge, when a shadowy character who has been snooping and plotting for years finally executes his plan to blow up the Glen Canyon Dam and restore the Colorado River to its original glory. Thrust into a life-and-death situation, Grant finds himself making decisions that are sure to get him in trouble with the bureau, which has become more political than Grant cares for. However, to not act is sure to result in even more political upheaval, loss of life and destruction of property.

The story follows several groups of people who are vacationing and/or living below the Glen Canyon Dam. There is nail-biting suspense as we follow a group of rafters in the Grand Canyon; a family on Lake Powell and their struggle to return to safety after the lake drains; and the tension created when Grant tries to make crucial decisions without the support of those who need to carry them out. Although the FBI becomes involved immediately, they too doubt Grant’s leadership and an early lack of intervention causes yet another, smaller dam to be blown up downstream from Glen Canyon. In the resulting chaos, everybody gets on board and the search is on for the person who is determined to wreck havoc on the Colorado River dam system from Utah to California.

The following are some excerpts that are meant to tantalize:

The Perp: “The best way to describe the man, if anyone cared to, was that he seemed unremarkable in every way. No facial features worth remembering, a plain face with plain brown hair. ... the only attribute that anyone would likely remember if they tried to recall the man was his build. He was uncommonly skinny. Skinny enough that almost all would remember it, if questioned. Then there were his eyes. Some might be unsettled by them, and they would be recalled as wild eyes.”

Grant Stevens: “Grant couldn’t think. Then all of a sudden, he wondered what would happen downstream if the Glen Canyon Dam failed. Lake Powell was huge, one of the largest reservoirs in the country. The damage downstream would be catastrophic. ... Grant bent forward and put his head in his hands. This was much worse than he had imagined. The pressure that deep in the dam would —

“Grant tried to picture the leak; he’d never seen that much water shooting out of a hole. Actually, a 30-foot column of water, no one on earth had for that matter. How could there not be any casualties? ‘Did everyone get out of the plant?’”

The first casualty: “Suddenly, Ted felt himself drop into a hole. The feeling inside his waders was instantaneous. ... He tore the suspenders off his shoulders and started peeling at the rubber material. During the motion his head went under. ... The pain in his chest now spread through his body. He felt his motivation tostruggle dissipate slightly, ... His last thoughts were of darkness, and pain in his chest, and a blurry drugged feeling that made it all bearable. He passed out without giving in to the urge to breathe water and became the first fatality on the Colorado River that morning.”

You can read the first chapter of the book at www.holeshotpress.com, and if you aren’t hooked, I miss my guess.

It has taken six years for this book to reach print, and one can only hope the next book will not take as long. Be one of the first to get this guy’s autograph this weekend — I’m telling you, he is bound to go places.

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Book critic Charlene Hirschi holds her master’s in English from Utah State University where she is the director of the writing center. She is among a number of freelance writers whose columns appear in The Herald Journal as part of an effort to expose readers to a variety of community voices. She is not an employee of the newspaper. Feedback at charlenehirschi@yahoo.com.