Kevin Tinto’s Leah Andrews & Jack Hobson Series

About the author:

Born: Wallace, Idaho

Education

B.S. – Business & Marketing, California State University, Sacramento, CA

Website: http://www.writingthrillers.com/

Thriller Sub-genre: Techno/SciFi Thriller

Future of the series: The next book in the series is entitled Ice Genesis is expected to be released December 2017.

The Simon Review

I decided to take a crack at Kevin Tinto’s Andrews & Hobson series when I saw on the cover of the first book in the series, Ice, that it was “A mind-blowing thriller in the tradition of James Rollins, Matthew Reilley, and Preston & Child”. With an endorsement like that how could I refuse? Though I would say that Tinto is not quite in the same league as these thriller gods, he does present a compelling novel.  

The story first takes place in the Gila wilderness area of southwestern New Mexico where archeologist Dr. Leah Andrews discovers a cliff dwelling that harbors a remarkable finding, some granite that could only be found in Antarctica and some drawings that look quite similar to a mountain peak known as Thor’s Hammer in Antarctica. From there she convinces her ex-husband, professional climber Jack Hobson, to help her set up an exploration team to venture off to Antarctica. But getting a team to Antarctica would not be cheap and getting government permission would be near to impossible, so Hobson decides to cash in on a favor from billionaire Alan J. Paulson. But like most billionaires, Paulson is not about to do this out of the kindness of his heart, but of course, wants to get something out of it, a vintage aircraft that had crashed landed not far from Thor’s Hammer. Needless to say this expedition was anything but simple, as the US government as well as the governments of Russia and Chile had a keen interest in what these explorers would uncover. Lots of action, Navy Seals, deceitful and corrupt politicians, and interesting technology pretty much sums up Tinto’s thriller.

Tinto has presently only published one book in the series, Ice, but plans to publish three more books with the next book in the series entitled Ice Genesis destined to be released sometime in the near future. It becomes pretty clear by the ending of Ice that there is more to the story, so plan on reading Ice Genesis when it comes out. Tinto is a bit of an adventurer (mountain climber, pilot, skier, and diver) and his love for the thrill is undoubtedly reflected in this novel, so I give him an A+ is this area. However, most of the complaints that I have read from other reviews focus on the characters. With the exception of Jack Hobson, which I did like, the other main characters (Leah Andrews & Alan Paulson) were not really likeable characters. Both Andrews and Paulson are self-absorbed characters that focus on getting what they want without really taking into consideration the consequences of their actions while Hobson, on the other hand, is the exact opposite.  With that being said, I still think that Ice is a pretty decent thriller, not quite James Rollins, but still a lot of fun.

What about the science? There is not a lot of science so far in this series and what little science there is revolves around weaponry and technology with some of it being more on the fictional side (see Technical Word in Review).

The Leah Andrews Technical Word in Review: Hafnium (Hf)- is an element that has a lot of chemical similarities to another transition metal known as zirconium. Though considered a precious metal it is more abundant than either silver or gold, but you will never find it in nature as a pure metal as it tightly complexes with zirconium. Separating the two is difficult because of their similar chemical properties and would not be done if it weren’t for one chemical property for which each element has totally opposite attributes, neutron absorption.  One of the important applications of zirconium is its use as a cladding or coating for fuel rods in nuclear reactors. Zirconium is desirable as cladding because it is very resistant to the absorption of thermal or energized neutrons. But hafnium has the opposite effect as it absorbs neutrons like a sponge, therefore it is necessary to separate hafnium from zirconium in order for zirconium to be an effective cladding which leads us to an important use of hafnium–a nuclear control rod. The function of a control rod is to control the fission of uranium or plutonium in a nuclear reactor and hafnium has the ability of absorbing thermal neutrons without fissioning.

Hafnium as a pure metal (Image from Wikimedia Commons)

Hafnium-isomer warheads.” His fingertips worked over the control panel as he talked. “These are the next-generation tactical weapons. Super-secret, James Bond”

“How do they work?”

“Each one of these contains about twenty pounds of charged Hafnium,” Beckman said.

Jack shrugged.

“You ever take physics? Hafnium is a metal, atomic number 72 on the periodic scale. To make a bomb you bombard it with a super-high-energy source. Think of it like a charged battery from hell. You heat the Hafnium with a short burst of X-rays and this mother explodes with a force of ten-thousand times strong as TNT. It’ll sterilize a half-mile radius with enough gamma radiation to–“

“To turn all living tissue into shoe-goo,” Jack said. – Ice


The hafnium isomer that Tinto is referring to is 178m2Hf which has the ability to absorb a considerable amount of energy and at the same time remain very stable. One gram of excited 178m2Hf has an energy equivalent of 660 pounds of TNT which it slowly releases naturally in the form of gamma rays with a half-life of 31 years. There has been speculation on the possibility of forcing 178m2Hf to quickly release its energy which in turn would release a devastating blast of deadly gamma radiation, but the triggering mechanism to release that energy was thought to require more energy than the amount of energy that would be released. But in 1998 Carl Collins of the University of Texas at Dallas published a paper in The Physical Review Letters that reported that he was able release the energy from 178m2Hf by irradiating it with a simple dental x-ray machine.  

Well as you can imagine, this got the attention of the folks at the Pentagon and with a multi-million dollar budget initiated the Hafnium Isomer Production Panel. But after years of testing no labs, including the Argonne National Laboratory, were able to reproduce Collins results and Collins’ findings were debunked as “bad science”. I find it amazing how our government will spend 30+ millions on a project for a weapon of mass destruction based on the publication of one scientist, yet at the same time in the words of our current OMB director Mick Mulvaney “we consider that to be a waste of your money” when referring to the scientific findings on climate change obtained from hundreds of scientists.  Needless to say, after a revealing exposé in The Washington Post, congress decided that our taxes would be best spent on something else and the hafnium project was dissolved in 2005.

Books in the Series by Order:

#1-Ice- 2015

First Line:

K’aalógii held her mother’s hand as they wound their way through the darkened passageway leading out of the remote mountain stronghold.


Characters

Dr. Leah Andrews: An archaeologist that formally worked at the Bureau of Land Management.

Jack Hobson: A professional mountain climber and ex-husband to Leah Andrews

Alan J. Paulson: New York Billionaire and corporate raider that has an adventurous streak.


The Setting

New Mexico, Mt Everest, and Antarctica


Archaeologist Leah Andrews stumbles upon something inexplicable in southwestern New Mexico: inside a dark cavern lies an undiscovered, Native American cliff dwelling abandoned for 800 years. While twisting through one of the narrow underground passageways, Leah’s flashlight illuminates the remains of a violent massacre.

Ancient human remains—all slaughtered in a long-ago massacre—cover the cavern floor, along with a number of brilliantly colored, granite crystals. The rare crystals are native to only one place on earth: a frozen mountain range in central Antarctica.

Could Native Americans have traveled to the frozen continent of Antarctica 800 years prior to the first known human exploration? If so how? And why?

There’s only one person who can get Leah to those mountains in Antarctica: her estranged husband and climbing guide Jack Hobson.

At their destination they make a stunning discovery that will change history and science forever. But Leah’s team is far from the only interested party.

As her secret makes its way to the highest levels of government, a race to seize the Russian-claimed Antarctic territory brings the world to the brink of nuclear conflict.


Jack looked up into her eyes, now wet with tears.

“If Dad were alive,” she said, “he would have sold his last pair of ragged underwear to fund the building of a reed boat to paddle to Antarctica if he thought it would lead to evidence cliff dwellers walked on Antarctic ice.


Looking for a review of Ice?  Check out:

The Columbia Review of Books & Films


Amazon Rating-US: 4.42 out of 5 stars based on 1,643 ratings

Amazon Rating-UK: 4.63 out of 5 stars based on 78 ratings

GoodReads Rating: 4.13 out of 5 stars based on 2,666 ratings

Barnes & Nobel Rating: 5.00 out of 5 stars based on 1 ratings

Library Thing Rating: 4.06 out of 5 stars based on 9 ratings

Total Score 4.25

 

 

#2-Ice Genesis- (Expected release date December 2017)

First Line:

Dr. Leah Andrews crouched at the top of the cliff, looking down at the mix of Native American people, speaking their different languages and trying to adapt to life after the trauma of their abduction experience.

 

#3-Ice Revelation