Karen Hall, an environmental engineer and writer, lives in the Black Hills outside Rapid City, SD, with her husband Jeff Nelsen and their cat Junior. Though she earned a Bachelor's Degree at the University of Minnesota, she confirmed Garrison Keillor's notions about English majors; she spent time as an editor, lifeguard, graphics designer, marketing executive, bank teller, secretary and cherry picker (really-Yakima Valley, Washington). None of them suited her well, so she went back to school for degrees in chemistry and chemical engineering, and spent many years working in Minnesota's oil industry. She left to start her own environmental consulting business-and to devote more time to writing. Her novel, Unreasonable Risk, the first Hannah Morrison mystery, is a thriller about sabotage in an oil refinery, and is available for all e-readers and, soon, in paperback. Ms. Hall has also published several short stories and travel pieces. Through Dark Spaces, A Hannah Morrison Mystery, is her second novel. Karen is currently finishing a novel about infertility, and has begun her third Hannah Morrison mystery.
Through Dark Spaces: A Hannah Morrison Mysteryby Karen Hall
When Hannah Morrison takes an environmental consulting job at a South Dakota surface mine, she doesn't expect to have to confront her darkest, most personal fears. In the course of her work, as she discovers secret after secret, Hannah realizes that somebody is poisoning the water in the beautiful Black Hills. Who--and why? Driven to solve the problem and find the people responsible, Hannah finds herself deep underground, trapped in the darkest of spaces--with a murderer.
- CreateSpace Publishing
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- 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.68(d)
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This is the second book by Karen E. Hall to feature Hannah Morrison, a consulting environmental engineer and sole proprietor [and only employee] of Morrison Engineering. Hired by Aureus Mining Company as the latter prepares to “reprocess some of its ore” [a term the author does her best to explain to the layman], Hannah has left St. Paul to come to Lead, South Dakota, and is trying to get accustomed to the [very] small-town life. An expert in anything dealing with oil and refineries, things below ground are new to her, but she is anxious to get her company off the ground so that it can actually provide her with an income. Helping Hannah fit in and familiar herself with her new surroundings is Lila Cooper, owner of the Ore House restaurant, who knows everybody in town and everyone’s secrets as well. Hannah hires Lila’s brother, Dooley, one of the miners, to help her acclimate herself to the mine and its secrets. Though she feels attracted to him, she thinks of herself as “attached,” sort of: Her putative boyfriend, a photojournalist working for CNN, has at least for the moment decided that his career opportunities were more important than their relationship and gone off to Atlanta. Hannah’s claustrophobia kicks in when she finds herself several thousand feet underground exploring the mine. As her investigation proceeds, suddenly accidents in the mine becomes life-threatening, immediately causing palpable terror for the mineworkers and the reader, who has just started to get to know the characters and thus fear for them. Indications of pollution in the groundwater and questions of hazardous waste contamination soon make matters much more complicated. Unfamiliar terms and jargon slowed down this reader; terms like “stope,” “headframe,” “natural attenuation,”“manway,” “heap leach operation,” and “winze,” the terminology at times making the read somewhat of a struggle. Once the relatively technical background has been laid out, the pace picks up considerably. Hannah is a fascinating protagonist, and the plot is an interesting one, giving the reader an insight into a world previously little-known to most. There are hints of a return of Ms. Morrison in a subsequent offering from the author, and I will look forward to reading it.
I met Hannah Morrison a while ago in the first book in the series. Most of the details are gone now, but I found Hannah likable. I particularly appreciated learning about the complexities of her world. I brought these expectations to THROUGH DARK SPACES which author Karen Hall fulfills thoroughly. Karen has a marvellous ability to quickly envelop the reader in a very tense present. This time we're in a mine. It's dark and quite a long way from the surface. Whoosh. Hannah is an environmental engineer bringing a technical and scientific approach to her viewpoint. She seems less swayed by silly girly issues and she's highly individualistic, so she's a good character to shadow. Unfortunately, life happened in the middle of this story and I left for a few days. When I returned, there were many details I couldn't quite remember. Reading, I noticed how carefully the author unravelled character motivations and insinuated suspicion and the words felt wasted on me because I couldn't bring all characters back in focus. Some people argue that reminding readers drags down the story, but it can be done subtly and more reminders would have been handy for me. Since THROUGH THE DARK SPACES is published by the author, perhaps we could return to a custom of the Golden Age and have a Cast of Characters. Had there been one with just a few reminders, my restart reading wouldn't have been wasted. Most characters are memorable, some unique; some so fascinating, I'd like to revisit them. There's dry humour and a bit of sweetness, but mostly THROUGH THE DARK SPACES is an exciting, captivating read.