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MAGAZINE.COM

Jun 21, 2007

“It reminded me a great deal of reading a Tom Clancy novel with its introduction of various aspects of the story, but it is faster paced and the device doesn’t slow down the story. But like Clancy, the author welds together diverse story lines and characters into one highly suspenseful tale that has the reader reluctant to miss a word or to set the book down.”

Link to article

Wet Desert by Gary Hansen is an extraordinary book. This suspense thriller begins with multiple scenarios. Grant Stevens, an engineer for the Bureau of Reclamation, gets bumped from attending an engineering conference in Kenya by both his boss and his supervisor. Three couples water ski and explore Lake Powell and its environs at the beginning of a badly needed vacation. Two rafts filled with white water enthusiasts float down the Grand Canyon. And somewhere a man sets in motion plans to blow up the Glen Canyon Dam and destroy all the dams and projects between Lake Powell and the Gulf of California.

When a massive blast knocks a small hole in the Glen Canyon Dam, shooting a slender spray across the canyon below, the trouble begins. Water pressure from massive Lake Power, slowly at first, then faster and faster, begins to tear the dam apart. Becoming the highest ranking official available, Grant Stevens begins a life and death struggle to project when the dam will fail and to protect dams, people, and fragile resources down river.

Then a second blast occurs at another dam. The F.B.I. and local law enforcement become involved. Governors, the media, environmentalists, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and Mexico all become involved. Lake Powell begins to drain, drawing boats into a swiftly moving current pulling them toward the massive falls created by the dam’s failure. Beaches and docks are left high and dry, unreachable to the boats being drawn into a narrowing channel. Below the dam, the water escalates in speed, rising rapidly several hundred feet, creating massive rapids and waterfalls, and wiping out beaches and landing places.

Ahead is Hoover Dam without enough capacity to hold back the draining Lake Powell. Below Hoover are smaller dams and reservoirs, cities and farms, an Indian reservation, California water reclamation projects, and the great Colorado River Delta that once teemed with life before the water was all drained off by water projects before reaching it.

Set in the Colorado River basin from above Glen Canyon extending to the Gulf of Mexico, this story is as new and modern as today’s news headlines. It is a story of terrorism, where the terrorism is not as expected. It balances recreation against conservation, politics against common sense. It’s honest and forthright in its portrayal of the conflicts within and between bureaucracies, the media, governments, and those who devote themselves to causes. It examines the needs and desires of farmers, conservationists, recreationists, and water and power users. One thing it is not, is politically correct. It goes beyond political correctness to blunt honesty and a recognition that there are few right or easy solutions.

I could compile a long list of this book’s faults — like most self-published books it has plenty — but there’s far more that is good and well-done that outweighs the poor copy editing, unimpressive title, repetitive imagination sequences, too nice ending, and other technical errors. It reminded me a great deal of reading a Tom Clancy novel with its introduction of various aspects of the story, but it is faster paced and the device doesn’t slow down the story. But like Clancy, the author welds together diverse story lines and characters into one highly suspenseful tale that has the reader reluctant to miss a word or to set the book down.

The imagery is vibrant, enabling the reader to see and imagine every aspect of the story, yet this is handled so smoothly that there is no hint of purple prose. Character development is handled well. The reader is given enough information to see and relate to the various characters without becoming bogged down with background trivia that might otherwise slow down the rapid pace of the plot.

This book is not specifically LDS, and with a national publisher and competent editor, could easily be a top national seller.

About the Author:

Jennie Hansen graduated from Ricks College in Idaho, then Westminster College in Utah. She has been a freelance magazine writer, newspaper reporter, editor, and librarian. Her published novels fall in several genre categories including romantic suspense, historical, and westerns.

She was born in Idaho Falls, Idaho, and has lived in Idaho, Montana, and Utah. She has received numerous first and second place writing awards from the Utah and National Federation of Press Women and was the 1997 third place winner of the URWA Heart of the West Writers Contest.

Jennie has been active in community affairs. She served a term on the Kearns Town Council, two terms on the Salt Palace Advisory Board, and was a delegate to the White House Conference on Libraries and Information Services.

She and her husband, Boyd, live in Salt Lake County. Their five children are all married and have provided them with ten grandchildren. When she’s not reading or writing, she enjoys spending time with her grandchildren, gardening, and camping.