One Mile Under by Andrew Gross is a thriller and mystery all rolled into one with the long-awaited return of Ty Hauck. On the surface it is a murder mystery, a “who done it,” but there is also the interesting aspects of energy independence. The plot will remind readers of Old West stories when farmers battled over land rights. As with most of Gross’ books there is the feature of how someone’s life can change in a brief moment.
The plot pits farmers against an energy company supporting fracking that needs the town’s water rights. But there is more to this struggle when Colorado whitewater guide Dani Whalen finds a dear friend, Trey Watkin, dead. After that her life changes from enduring the dangers of nature to avoiding dangerous men. Although his death is ruled an accident she believes it to be murder. Getting nowhere with the local police chief, Wade Dunn, who also happens to be her ex-stepfather, she threatens to make her suspicions public. This is when Ty, wearing his white hat, comes into the story since Dani is like an adopted daughter. He does not hesitate to get involved to find the killers. The suspense ratchets up from here as Dani and Ty risk their lives to pursue justice.
Readers will be taken on a journey, feeling a part of the different scenes as they whitewash down the rapids with Dani, take a hot air balloon ride, and consider the positive and negative points of fracking. The culprit is not energy companies, but individual bad guys who are consumed by greed and power.
Gross commented to blackfive.net, “I did a lot of research regarding the technology and resulting environmental impact. If I had to take sides I would be for it, with environmental oversight. We must consider the long-term strategic goal of energy independence, which outweighs the environmental risks. I tried to present this within an action packed story. People in Colorado were comfortable and saw the energy companies as being good citizens.”
The supporting character, Dani, stole the show. She is smart, pretty, funny, and has a take no prisoner attitude. Gross is able to make her a very sympathetic character through her vulnerability. On the other hand, Wade Dunn is a character that seems to have lost his soul. While charming on the outside he is weak-minded, and over steps the line by not doing what’s right. He appears to be a self-destructive person.
Gross based “Dani on a Wyoming white-rafting guide for my family. She was self-reliant and totally in control. I had this infatuation with her because she was tough as nails. I always wanted to write her as a character. But in this book I must say that I enjoyed writing Wade more than anyone else. I also wrote in a wounded soldier because I wanted to give back to the military since I was someone who grew up during the Viet Nam War. I wanted to create someone who would elicit overpowering compassion and respect.”
One Mile Under is an informative and thrilling story. Its’ characters are well developed and its plot, with its many twists and turns, are suspenseful and creative.
The author gave a heads up about his next book, which will be more of a historical novel. Gross examines his Jewish roots as he based a character in the book on his father-in-law. He left Poland before the start of WWII and later found out his entire family did not survive. The theme of the book will include how to handle grief and survivor’s guilt.