Pretty good. Interesting details regarding the area.
Within the pages of this book is one of the best explanations I've ever read of what it's like to be a geologist:
"He had worked for one of the mid-sized oil companies for a while, and now was teaching part-time at a couple of different schools, eking out a living as geologists so often find themselves doing. People want oil? We'll find oil until it gluts the market and people think they don't need us anymore. Folks got ground-water contamination to clean up or landfills to be built to ensure that additional groundwater isn't fouled? We'll all jump on that until that's done, and folks think they're done spilling things, and again we're out of a job. Humankind wants to be safe from earthquakes? We'll map the fault lines and advise legislatures until public policy is enough improved that everyone forgets what we did for them lately and . . . yeah, same story, we fall prey to the next budget cut. Folks don't comprehend how long it takes to build such knowledge, and how quickly it can be lost."
The book is a murder mystery. The protagonist, the author and I all have something in common: we are females working in the profession of geology with experience in the oil industry. Although my life has not been nearly as adventurous as Em's (which may be a good thing), I do relate to her on more levels than I do most of the main characters in the other mystery novels I read. Her character development through each book in the series rings true, and I love that at the age of 40 she's still tentative and uncertain about some things. I'm jealous of her, too, as most of us went into geology for the field work but few of us get to keep doing it so long into our careers. And Em gets to do it out west, where you can really see the geology!
As usual, within the context of the mystery, Andrews cogently explains geologic concepts in terms of both scientific interest and public importance. She explains both sides of earth-related controversies - in this case, overdevelopment in an arid region - although this time I thought some of the characters involved were a little more cartoonish than I remembered from her previous books (hence 4 stars instead of 5).
Em's love interest in this book, Fritz, remains inscrutable to the reader as well as to Em until near the end which is a little frustrating at times but I sense we'll get to know him better in the next book. Her ex-boyfriend, Ray, is still around and has acquired a bit of a creepy aspect that takes an interesting turn at the end. The relationship between Em and her college friend, Julia, explores how friendships change when life paths that were similar eventually diverge.
Like all good murder mysteries, some drama and surprises at the end.
All in all, a great read and I highly recommend it and the series.