Samuel Marquis’ Joe Higheagle Series

samuel_marquisAbout the author:

Born: Denver, Colorado


B.S. –Geology, Denison University, Granville, Ohio

M.S.–Geology, Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas


Thriller Sub-genre: Techno-thriller, Ecothriller

The Simon Review

I grew up in Colorado, specifically Littleton – notorious for being “Home of the Columbine shooting”. And no, I did not go to Columbine High School, in fact, Columbine was a spanking brand new school when I was in high school. I left Colorado in 1984, and with the exception of a couple of visits with my parents, I haven’t been back since. So when I read Samuel Marquis’ Joe Higheagle series, I have to say, it took me down memory lane. As you can guess, the Joe Higheagle series is set in Colorado, in and around the Denver metro area.

Joe Higheagle is a Native American namely from the Cheyenne tribe and is a hydrogeologist who initially in the series worked for an environmental consultant group known as HydroGroup, and eventually formed his own company. Higheagle’s troubles begin in Blind Thrust when he was doing a job for Quantrill Ventures, Inc., a hazardous waste plant, refinery and wind farm when a major earthquake occurred. After the quake, Higheagle noticed some irregularities happening at Quantrill Ventures and decided to investigate, which soon lead him to findings that gave evidence that the earthquake didn’t occur naturally. After a perilous experience in Blind Thrust, Higheagle is eager to take on the bad boys in Cluster of Lies, when Higheagle is hired by Vincenzo Minesali, owner of a pesticide and herbicide company, to investigate the land where a housing complex resides and several young boys died of a rare brain cancer that had lived in the complex. The bad boy in this case is Hayden Winthrop Prescott III, a real estate developer, and as you can guess from his name, he’s a silver spoon and God’s gift to humanity.

Marquis is onto a fun series, with a great protagonist, plenty of action, and some compelling science. The focus of the series probes geological environmental impacts that can or do have grave consequences for humanity. It seems quite appropriate that Marquis has chosen a Native American as the protagonist as Native American culture is known for its respect for nature. Marquis’ portrayal of Higheagle is interesting, as he is a character caught between two cultures. On one hand, he is a scientist totally assimilated into modern society, while on the other hand, he lives a life along with his grandfather that is still immersed in the traditions of his Cheyenne heritage. I am looking forward to seeing more of Higheagle and learn more about Cheyenne culture.

I would suggest strongly reading the series is order.

Most Favorite Novel in the Series- Cluster of Liesthis is the latest in the series and seems more polished than Blind Thrust. The antagonist was a truly evil character which gave this a book a better edge.

Least Favorite Novel in the Series- Blind Thrust– Some of the passages were quite repetitive which was distracting. The antagonist vacillated between being a good guy and an evil character which took away from the more thrilling aspect of the novel.

What about the science? When Samuel Marquis is not writing exciting thrillers he works as vice president and hydrogeologist at a Boulder based environmental firm. Additionally, he has also been an expert witness in multimillion class action suits which gives me confidence that the science is quite sound.

The Joe Higheagle Technical Word in Review: Seismic waves- Whenever an explosion or movement within the earth occurs, energy is released in the form of seismic waves. Seismic waves fall into two main categories, body waves and surface waves.

Body waves are the first detectable waves that move deep within the earth with P-waves or primary waves being the fastest. P-waves are also known as compression waves which moves forward by compressing and expanding the earth much like an accordion. The non-destructive P waves move deep through the earth and people may not even notice it, and those that do often report it as a sharp sound more so than a feeling. But dogs and other animals are believed to be quite sensitive to its vibrations.

The second body wave is known as S-waves, secondary or shear waves. Like P-waves, S waves move deep within the earth in a back and forth motion that shears the rock. Arriving after the P-wave, the S-wave is considerably more destructive than the P-wave.

The surface waves are the most destructive seismic waves as they occur at the surface of the earth. One type of surface wave is known as Rayleigh waves named after Lord Rayleigh, an English physicist that first predicted these waves. Rayleigh waves move much like a ripple in a pond. The second surface wave, and the most destructive wave, is the Love wave named after Augustus Edward Hough Love, a mathematician known for his theory on elasticity. Love waves move in both a horizontal and perpendicular motion.

Nickerson walked to the glass window and peered into the Drum Room. Here seismic waves from not only North America but from around the world was being monitored via satellite. Whenever a major earthquake rocked the continent, Nickerson knew that his next twenty-four hours would be frantic and sleepless. Blind Thrust

Books in the Series by Order:

For the time being I am not going to list the most and least popular book of the series because the total number of ratings in Goodreads, Amazon, Rakuten Kobo, and Library Thing add up to less than 100 which means statistically they don’t really have any meaning. So read the books and give a rating.

blind_thrust#1-Blind Thrust- 2015

First Line:

On the day of the first catastrophe–October 23, 2008–Joseph Higheagle stared down at one of the greatest paleontological wonders ever discovered.


Joseph Higheagle: A hydrogeologist and a Native American from the Cheyenne tribe

John Higheagle: Joe Higheagle’s grandfather

Charles Prometheus Quantrill: CEO of Quantrill Ventures, Inc.

James Frances Nickerson: Director of the National Earthquake Information Center and known as the “Earthquake Man”

Harry Boggs: Quantrill’s chief of security

Jack Holland: Quantrill’s legal expert

Jeb Quantrill: Charles Quantrill’s younger brother and is a geologist for Quantrill Venture

Nina Curry: EPA engineer and project manager

The Setting


Horrific earthquakes are devastating the Front Range between Denver and Colorado Springs in an area long believed to be seismically quiescent. They are being generated by ruptures along cryptic, mysterious, deeply buried thrust faults (blind thrusts) that, unlike many faults, do not break the surface during large-scale seismic events. Somehow the cause of the unusual earthquakes must be unraveled and the cataclysms stopped before they result in more carnage and devastation. But are they the result of natural tectonic adjustments, hydro-fracking, conventional subsurface sequestering, or clandestine operations?

Environmental Geologist Joe Higheagle is on a mission to find out the answer. But he soon finds himself in a deadly duel of wits against powerful forces. With his team of techie sleuths, Higheagle goes toe to toe against his adversaries while grappling to collect, analyze, and leverage the scientific data needed to prove his case. But at every turn he is thwarted by his shadowy enemy and, with the cataclysms worsening, he may not have enough on his side to solve the mystery and save Colorado from more devastation. Can he solve the enigma of the earthquakes and gather enough evidence to stop those responsible? Will the tremors continue to wreak death and mayhem across the Front Range? Or will Higheagle and his outgunned team be defeated and ultimately crushed by their adversaries? If the earthquakes are not stopped, thousands more will perish and more towns and homes will be destroyed, leaving countless injured and homeless as well as untold financial damage across the Front Range. But can the resourceful Higheagle and his team stop those responsible? In the end, all they can do is try.

“I realize that but let me tell you what we’ve got. The preliminary indication is that a blind thrust fault in the Precambrian basement may be the cause of the recent earthquake.”

 “Hold on a secondblind thrust, you say? As in a low angle reverse fault with no visible surface rupture?”

 Nickerson nodded. “The problem is there hasn’t been any evidence of historical seismicity in the area and no documented faults capable of the slip or energy release we saw from the recent quake.”

 “A blind thrust? I can’t believe it. I haven’t mapped any faults like that out here in this part of the basin.”

Looking for a review of Blind Thrust?  Check out:

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Amazon Rating: 3.88 out of 5 stars based on 38 ratings

Rakuten Kobo Rating: not rated

GoodReads Rating: 4.35 out of 5 stars based on 102 ratings

Library Thing Rating: not rated

Total Score 4.19 (Updated 10/21/20)



cluster_lies#2-Cluster of Lies- 2016

Listed #184 out of 553 on Goodreads Best Technothrillers Ever Book List

Listed #51 out of 172 on Goodreads Best Sciencethrillers Book List

Listed #3 out of 42 on Goodreads Best Eco-Thriller Book List

First Line:

“Glad you could make it Gus.”


Joseph Higheagle and John Higheagle

Tommy McTavish: Young boy that has a rare brain tumor

Sally McTavish: Mother to Tommy and love interest to Joe Higheagle

Hayden Winthrop Prescott III: Owner of a very successful real estate firm and developer

Vincenzo Minesali: Owner of a pesticide and herbicide company

Vic Shard: Private investigator hired by Prescott

Doug Hwong: Owner of a environmental testing laboratory

The Setting


In this second thriller in the Joe Higheagle Environmental Sleuth Series, mysterious deaths are taking place in the Rocky Mountain region outside Denver, Colorado. Joe Higheagle–a full-blooded Cheyenne geologist who has recently become an overnight celebrity for bringing down a billionaire corporate polluter–is hired to investigate Dakota Ranch, where four boys have recently died from a rare form of brain cancer, and Silverado Knolls, a glitzy soon-to-be-built development. He quickly finds himself entangled in an environmental cancer cluster investigation as well as a murderous conspiracy in which friend and foe are indistinguishable and a series of seemingly impenetrable roadblocks are thrown in his path.

Looking for a review of Cluster of Lies?  Check out:

Lit World Interviews

Read All The Books

Cheryl’s Book Nook

Amazon Rating-US: 4.28 out of 5 stars based on 23 ratings

Rakuten Kobo Rating: not rated

GoodReads Rating: 4.56 out of 5 stars based on 57 ratings

Library Thing Rating: 4.00 out of 5 stars based on 1 ratings

Total Score 4.47 (updated 10/21/20)