The Bottom Line: Much more than a superb conspiracy thriller, Backfill is an absolute must-read for any environmentally conscious reader.
Mary Ann Hodges seems to have hit the mother load with her new job at a near-emission power plant in Utah. But the idyllic setting hides something much more sinister. While she’s no gumshoe or private eye, Hodges is smart. It’s thanks to her curious nature that she finds out that the plant is really a front for processes that actually threaten the environment, not help it.
Anyone who keeps up with the news may be familiar with the term “fracking,” but few know exactly what it entails. In Backfill, Cynthia Soule Levesque expertly uses the mining industry as the framework for a mystery that weaves corporate greed along with a decidedly more down-to-earth dive into ancestry and how it connects to everything that happens in the present. The results are mostly spectacular.
During Hodges’ travails, Levesque incorporates a spiritual aspect that may seem too out-there at points, but as a counterpoint to the industrial and technological feel of the book, they work to further expand the plot. At times the book can feel like it’s veering into the mystical, especially when a cure for cancer and a long-lost Native American tribe comes into play. Even so, Backfill is a riveting read that’ll expand readers’ understanding of what happens at power plants and the possibility of back-alley conspiracies and executive corruption.
As a retired environmental manager, Levesque’s experience shines through in every chapter. No matter what readers may feel about fracking and its impact on the Earth, the book’s exciting pace and unusual set of circumstances set it apart from the political thrillers and spy-centric books flooding the shelves.