Sunday, January 10, 2016
“My usual mode of fiction writing,” notes Michael J. Fitzgerald on his blog (michaeljfitzgerald.blogspot.com), “is to start a story and run with it--just as fast as I can think and type. There are no long hiatuses or thumb sucking. I just keep the story moving.”
The result is a series of suspense novels (starting with “The Fracking War”) which draw on his journalism background to probe what Big Energy is doing to local communities in extracting natural gas from “hydraulic fracturing.” Fitzgerald’s alter ego in “Fracking Justice” ($16.95 in paperback from Mill City Press; also for Amazon Kindle) is Jack Stafford, editor of the Horseheads Clarion, a small town newspaper in New York near the Pennsylvania border.
In one of his weekly editorials Stafford writes: “This newspaper has chronicled the power and influence of the energy lobby and energy companies for years, pointing out how that power and influence got energy companies exemptions from federal clean water and clean air acts. Those exemptions opened the door to hydrofracking for oil and natural gas, arguably the greatest manmade threat to our environment we have ever faced.”
Fitzgerald, who worked briefly at the E-R decades ago, now lives with his journalist wife Sylvia Fox in Mexico, the Finger Lakes area of Central New York, and California.
The focus of the newspaper investigation is Rockwell Valley, just across the New York border in Pennsylvania, where Grand Energy Services (GES) is building “a salt cavern storage of propane and natural gas.” GES is bringing jobs to the community but it’s also buying up local officials (the mayor is a GES employee).
At the same time Stafford is reeling over the loss of his wife in a boating accident, caring for his young son Noah who seems to have lost his hearing, and wondering what will become of his relationship with Cass, one of his wife’s sisters, who has come to New York to care for Noah.
There’s also the story of the Rockwell Valley Sheriff, Melvin “Bobo” Caprino, who must choose between loyalty to GES and loyalty to his conscience. The action never stops, and the explosive ending will have readers pondering the “ripped from the headlines” consequences.