Close But No Cigar.. **
Fiction can be educational or at least expose readers to information about a real subject they may not know and when done well, can make that education exciting. Two examples that come to mind are Tom Clancy”s “The Hunt for Red October” that opened the world to the workings of a nuclear submarine, or Michael Crichton’s “Micro” which explores the science of microtechnology. It is an art to craft a novel combining facts with a fictional suspense story.
L. A. Stark attempts this blend in her debut novel “13 Days – The Pythagoras Conspiracy”. Unfortunately she doesn’t pull it off.
Anyone who has driven by or seen pictures of an oil refinery knows how complicated they look and it boggles the mind to imagine all the engineering that goes into building one. While Starks’ knowledge of the oil business and its production is amazing she spends too much time informing the reader of that knowledge. Even as an engineer, I found it hard to stay interested in her technical dissertation.
About three quarters of the way the book does take off as the story of who may be sabotaging the refinery unfolds and the writing is more about the characters. Stark does a good job of character development and weaves an intriguing story once she leaves the technical aspects of the refinery.
This book shows that Starks is a talented author with a depth of knowledge of her subject. The book only suffers from a lack of good editing which seems to be an issue in a great many novels these days.