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Ascending Power
When a rare mineral discovery pits a small west Texas tribe against Big Oil, it turns into a battle for survival that will leave the world changed forever. NFL star quarterback Billy Strikeleather is living the dream—he has a beautiful wife, adoring fans, and a multi-million-dollar mansion. But when an injury sidelines him permanently, he turns to the bottle for solace. With the DWIs piling up, his marriage hits the rocks and his self-confidence is shaken. Feeling unmoored, Billy warily responds to a call from his uncle, returning to his childhood home on the Chinati reservation in rural west Texas to help the old man investigate a troubling mystery. Something’s been contaminating the reservation’s hot springs, and Uncle Sam Longbird is hoping Billy can help him uncover the truth. The water is contaminated, all right. The deep springs have brought to the surface a rare mineral that could disrupt the global energy market and make the tribe wealthy beyond its imaginings. This may be Billy’s one chance to restore his tribe’s fortunes and prove his value not only to his people, but to himself. But when Longbird narrowly avoids death at the hands of a mysterious gunman, Billy realizes someone will kill to keep that mineral a secret, someone with pockets deep enough to bribe local law enforcement and government. What can a washed-up quarterback do against influence like that? Billy may not have much power, but he does have friends: a lonely professor with a shipwrecked career and dangerous knowledge, a young TV anchor whose ambitions for the future are at war with her past, and an old Indian chief whose love for his people is rivaled only by his self-doubts. They must work together to protect the hot springs’ gift—or die trying. Lovers of James Patterson’s twisting plots and relatable characters will enjoy this thrilling David-and-Goliath tale.
The success of Billy Strikeleather, the hero of Gibson’s gripping thriller, as a professional football player put his hometown of Chinati Flats, Tex., on the map. Then an injury ended his NFL career, and Billy’s life has since consisted of alcohol abuse and a fruitless search for work. His 80-year-old uncle, Sam Longbird, offers the possibility of a change for the better. Sam has discovered a hot spring near the town with an unusual mineral content toxic to plants, but before he can say who else he’s discussed the find with, he’s shot and ends up in a coma. After tasting a water sample from the hot spring, Billy suspects that it contains a rare earth element, dysprosium, capable of boosting gas mileage. When he consults his college geology professor, Clive Larsen, with whom he once researched the element, he learns that oil companies felt sufficiently threatened by Clive’s work on dysprosium to arrange for Clive’s wife to be sexually assaulted and ruin the academic’s career. The tension rises as Billy searches for justice for Sam and Clive. Gibson combines a sympathetic, flawed lead with a suspenseful plot. (Self-published.)