Harvey Doucet, a reasonably good Catholic, would never have committed suicide.
His son, Harvey Jr. – H – knows this, so after Doucet Drilling causes the collapse of a salt mine and thirteen deaths, H searches for clues to clear his estranged father’s name. H and his father’s bodyguard, Placide, encounter dangerous cliffhangers, as the pursuers become the pursued. On the way, H exposes greed, fraud, and corruption, leading all the way to the White House.
In Pillars of Salt by J.A. Adams, we experience H’s journey from his original bitterness, angst, and cynicism toward his life and his father, to a place of appreciation and understanding of his father’s integrity. Maybe H will also discover the inherent goodness in people, even when the world seems to be circling the drain.
In this promising debut, Adams effectively draws on a real-life 1980 disaster. When exploratory drilling by an oil rig in a Louisiana lake accidentally punctures a salt mine, melting its salt dome and creating a massive whirlpool, 13 people die, including a master electrician who sent the rest of his crew to safety. The mine’s owner, Sapphire Salt Company, sues Doucet Drilling, seeking millions in damages. The suit apparently prompts Doucet’s owner, Harvey Doucet, to take a fatal dose of sleeping pills. But when Harvey Jr., known as H, learns of his father’s death, he suspects foul play, since his parent was a devout Catholic. As H digs into the overdose and the disaster, he upsets some powerful people and places himself in harm’s way. Another supposed suicide—of someone H interviewed—only reinforces his belief that something rotten is behind the mine collapse and his father’s death. Adams injects the thriller plot with emotion, plausibly conveying the conflicted feelings H has for his father, who treated him badly in life. John Grisham fans should take a look. (Self-published)