Name of the book: Oil and Water
Genre of the book: Eco thriller; murder mystery; suspense;
Book synopsis: When inventor Martin Tirabi builds a machine that converts trash into oil it sends shockwaves through the corporate halls of the oil cognoscenti. Weeks later, Marty and his wife, Ruth are killed in a mysterious car accident.
Their son, Gil, a 10-year old physics prodigy is the only one capable of finishing the machine that could solve the world’s energy problems. Plagued with epilepsy from birth, Gil is also psychic, and through dreams and the occasional missive from his dead father he gets the push he needs to finish the job.
Meanwhile, Bicky Coleman, head of Akanabi Oil is doing his best to smear the planet in it. From a slow leak in the Gulf of Mexico to the most devastating oil spill the Delaware River has ever seen, Akanabi’s corporate practices are leaving oily imprints in their wake. To divert the tide of bad press, Bicky dispatches his son-in-law and Chief Engineer, David Hartos to clean up his mess.
A disillusioned Hart, reeling from the recent death of his wife and unborn child, travels to Philadelphia to fulfill his father-in-law’s wishes.
There’s no such thing as coincidence when Hart meets Gil and agrees to help him finish Marty’s dream machine. But how will he bring such a revolutionary invention to market in a world reliant on fossil fuels and awash in corporate greed? To do so, Hart must confront those who would quash the project, including his own father-in-law.
You’ll find murder, mystery, and humor as black as fine Arabian crude filling the pages of Oil and Water. The characters are fictional, but the technology is real. What will we do when the oil runs out? Open up and see.
Lazos (Six Sisters, 2015, etc.) mixes childhood genius, corporate corruption, and the paranormal in this science thriller.
While the oil business is a fraught enterprise, few expect any danger from that industry to follow them to American soil, much less to their own homes. The Tirabi children—Avery, Kori, Robbie, and Gil—and David “Hart” Hartos know better. Gil has a premonition that allows the kids to escape their home just before it’s burgled and bombed, while their parents are run off the road and killed.
But Gil’s unusual gifts don’t end there, as his brilliant mind and connection with his father’s spirit allow him to continue work on the man’s final invention: the Thermo-Depolymerization Unit, a machine that converts any carbon-based matter into oil. Meanwhile, Hart is reeling from the deaths of his wife and unborn child and finds no relief in his engineering efforts for Akanabi Oil. Not only is his boss his late wife’s father, but a rash of oil spills only belies the real problem: oil is running out, and a global catastrophe is imminent.
When Hart and Gil meet, it’s no wonder they experience a kinship and join forces to complete the TDU and unravel the mysteries of their own personal tragedies and the depths of the world of oil. It’s easy for a science thriller to get too bogged down in theory and explanations to have a real story or, conversely, to use weak technical details as a backdrop for inferior drama. Thankfully, this surprising novel deftly avoids both pitfalls.
The science is compelling and balances supporting the narrative with providing relevant real-world context while the tale possesses a depth of emotion rarely seen in this genre. The two sides actually support each other. The realities of a coming oil crisis give both characters and readers something to fear, and touches like the medical and forensic perspective on Hart’s wife’s death manage to be haunting and affecting, not just clinical.
Finally, the characters are a genuine delight, all with their own voices and relationships—an especially impressive feat with four children ranging from age 11 to young adulthood.
An insightful, emotional, and deeply relevant novel about an oil industry conspiracy.
Guest review contributed by the KR review team.