James W. Mercer is a very knowledgeable man. He has used his expertise and passion for geology to create an interesting and informative book entitled “The Volcano That Changed the World”. However, this is more than just a novel about the search by Mark Molloy for Atlantis and the effects of the eruptions of the Thera volcano in 1600BCE. Intertwined with this search is a mystery. Who has attempted to murder Molloy, by locking him an ice core laboratory at the university where he works?
The two distinct plot strands work well, although largely independent of each other. Molloy’s search for evidence of his theories concerning the extent of the Thera eruption take place largely in the eastern Mediterranean. I found this to be very interesting and could easily picture the scenes described by the author.
The mystery surrounding the attempted murder is dealt with by Detective Carter. His work on this case is not particularly successful in discovering the perpetrator, but his investigations lead to interesting plot developments. There is quite a twist at the end of this novel, which I wasn’t really expecting.
All in all, I enjoyed this book and the factual content has given me food for thought. The characters were developed enough to make them plausible and easy to engage with. I would certainly recommend it to those who enjoy their mystery novels laced with large doses of fact; this was a very satisfying read!
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An attempted murder at the Florida State University ice core laboratory leaves geology professor Mark Malloy wondering who wants him dead and if they will try again. Fortunately, Mark is leaving for the Greek island of Santorini to spend the summer resolving the mystery surrounding the lost island of Atlantis. He believes Atlantis’ fate is linked to the mysterious annihilation of the advanced Minoan Empire, the cradle of European civilization, on the island of Crete. While studying the Thera volcanic eruption on Santorini, Mark teams with Greek archeologist, Alexandra Papadopulos. Building on the work of others, their studies uncover information linking the downfall of the Minoans to Plato’s story about the destruction of Atlantis, identifying the actual Atlantis location that had been shrouded in myth. Mark’s sojourn to the warm and sunny Greek islands is interrupted when a colleague discovers Thera volcanic ash in Egypt and asks him to come help investigate. While in the Nile Delta, Mark learns firsthand how far-reaching the impacts of the Thera volcano were; how the eruption changed the entire world. Meanwhile, back in the States, the attempted-murder investigation is underway. Even while far away, Mark is haunted by the investigation stateside and by a simultaneous attempt to prevent his tenure at the university. As the summer field season draws to an end, he must return home to face the unknown person who wants him dead.
James W. Mercer works in the area of hydrogeology and has published numerous technical articles. In 1985, he was awarded the Wesley W. Horner Award of the American Society of Civil Engineers for work performed at Love Canal. In 1994, he received the American Institute of Hydrology's Theis Award for contributions to groundwater hydrology. The Scrolls, his first novel, was published in 2011. The Volcano was published in 2013. He currently lives in the Washington, D.C. area.
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