Zack Tolliver, FBI, and his friend and mentor Eagle Feather investigate the case of a missing scientist among the goblin rocks and desolate flats near Joshua Tree National Park, all the while pursued by an assassin.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading R. Lawson Gamble's Lost Oasis for its remarkable principal characters, Zack Tolliver and Eagle Feather, and equally for the fascinating evocative narrative of Chemehuevi legends, beliefs, and traditions interwoven into the mystery. Zack and Eagle Feather are a formidable team of investigators. Zack has the unusual ability to grasp intuitively the significance of legends and myths. Eagle Feather's extraordinary ability to view matters from both modern and more ancient perspectives is vital to their investigation and to their very survival. I liked the involvement of two Chemehuevi tribe members in the story: Dr. Silvia Mike, dentist and shaman, and Lucas Leivas, a Chemehuevi investigator. Their characters are vital to understanding the seemingly unrelated pieces of the mystery. As the story progressed, I was riveted by the twists and turns. The vivid desert descriptions make the tension even more palpable, and the suspense never ends. The ending is out of this world! A great murder mystery, elusive and exciting!
By Pamela Dozois
R. Lawson Gamble (Rich) has just published his much-anticipated eighth book in the Zack Tolliver southwestern crime mystery series titled “Lost Oasis,” a non-stop action thriller.
In this book, FBI agent Zack Tolliver and his trusted friend and expert tracker, Eagle Feather, find themselves embroiled in a first-class mystery involving modern science, high technology, and deeply rooted cultures and ancient rituals. They are called upon to investigate the sudden and mysterious disappearance of a world-class scientist in the goblin rocks and desolate flats of the Eagle Mountains, surrounded by Joshua Tree National Park. When someone plants a bomb in his Jeep the day he arrives, Tolliver begins a desperate duel with an unknown assassin who may very well be more than his match.
“I’ve gone to Palm Springs many times because I like to run in the heat and in the desert,” said Gamble, a long-distance runner. “I’d always wanted to visit Joshua Tree and on one of my last visits I was delighted to discover there were a lot of beautiful trails up there. It’s a great place to run, except that the trails are too short. So, I went to the Ranger Station and got special permission to go past the barrier for a long-distance run, which took me to a place called ‘Hidden Oasis.’ Looking down the arroyo, I saw a virtual Garden of Eden filled with palm trees. It was in this desert wilderness that I was inspired to write this book.”
Gamble had participated in the Joshua Tree Half-Mile Marathon which takes place at night. Two thousand five hundred people run it by only the light from the headlamps worn on their foreheads.
“The marathon begins just as darkness falls and the moon rises,” said Gamble. “When you look back all you can see in the darkness is a snake of headlamps worn by the runners in the marathon. Absorbing the atmosphere, the coldness of the night and the desolateness of the area, my imagination kicks in and I’m off to write another book, at least until the last few miles when I’m just trying to survive and complete the race.”
“One interesting point is that while I was writing the plot of ‘Lost Oasis,’ conjuring up the most vicious and villainous characters, through my research, I was so shocked to discover a real-life parallel of the nefarious activities that I’d imagined for my plot. My story line happened in real life, here in California,” said Gamble. “I couldn’t believe what I was reading; it was all there.”
The story also incorporates the Chemehuevi, a division of the Southern Paiute Tribe whose legends include flying runners and the trails they run, which are featured in their songs. These songs are passed down through generations.
Gamble is working on the ninth book in the series, which is still untitled. He says it will be a little different this time, relating more to human frailties than he has done in the past. He is also the author of “The History of Los Alamos” as well as the “Johnny Alias” series, all of which can be purchased through Amazon and at local bookstores.
“Writing novels is my third career,” said Gamble. “It’s something I love to do. I write every morning, rain or shine, 365 days a year.”
For more information, visit rlawsongamble.com or rlawsongamble/author page on Amazon.