Blood Gold: William Nikkel
A simple specimen jar filled with water, a research project geared to finding out what this specimen jar and the secrets it might uncover as one young woman stands on the bank of the Mazaruni River dipping that same jar into the cold waters of this vast river. So many people oblivious to the imminent threat to thousands of people as this one small specimen jar just might hold the key to saving lives if the research being done uncovered the toxins and poisons someone is dumping in the river. Ahalya Pillai stands on the bank of the Mazaruni River dipping a small specimen jar into the cold waters of this river. The sample did not present any visual danger but looks, as we know can be deceiving. Mercury and other dangerous poisons and toxins used to separate gold from the gravel beds in the mines found their way into the water supply of Bartica. Imagine cooking, washing, or cleaning yourself and finding that your body has been absorbing cyanide, mercury and your life is now in danger. You are not the only one that is being held victim to this carnage the aquatic life that lives and breathes within these waters has been victimized too. Innocent fish, sharks and other animals living within the river have died out and are seen floating on top of what used to be fresh water. Imagine coming to the river and seeing dead fish floating. Imagine walking back and facing a stranger smiling and looking directly at you but never realizing that you as well as the fish is this man’s prey.
Marine Biologist Jack Ferrell is in Guyana; South America doing research geared towards finding what is causing the increase in shark attacks. Seeing that Pillai was in danger Jack went into action taking care of the attacker and brought her to safety. Learning more about each other and realizing that his research and hers might be linked they formed an immediate alliance. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is where he is a marine biologist. Pillai is a biochemist and no threat to anyone in Guyana so she thought. But, someone wants her out of the way. As part of an international research team whose goal it is to document the level of toxins in the country’s water system, and sent to find out what has been contaminating the water and hoping to help the Guyanese people would put her and others in the direct line of fire.
Governments are not all honest. Companies are sometimes corrupt. A mining company working in Guyana has one goal: to dig up as much gold as they can find, not care about what they are doing to pollute the waters or killing the fish. Not concerned about the fact that the cyanide level might be above the legal limit, not caring about mining regulations and hopefully being able to skirt around the problem, fix the leak that is causing the toxins to infiltrate in the tailings ponds and hopefully not get closed down this mining company rationalized their plan at least in their minds and forged ahead to stop the researchers at any cost. Two men: Raoul Billaud and Gerard Gourde: greedy, dangerous, relentless, unfeeling and power hungry and will stop at nothing including murder to complete what they started and keep the heat off of them from the Ministry of Health who was suspicious of the high amounts of toxins in the river.
Philip Bjourson headed the international research team and learned about the attack on Pillai. As the incident is discussed and Pillai realizes that the outcome might have been different if not for Jack, she becomes enraged and will not give agreeing to go up river and get more samples to find out just how far the river has been contaminated and conduct further testing. Fear might keep someone else away but Pillai was determined to continue with the aid of two others: a teammate Martin Fletcher and Alex Soukis the team leader.
Pollution, the ecosystem, the environment and the lives of an entire village and the fish within a river are what are at stake and the issues brought to light within this complex and multi-layered novel by author William Nikkel. As Jack and Pillai join forces, discuss their goals and become familiar with each other’s work, they discuss the possible origin of the problem, the significance of the gold mine, the worth of the gold, the importance it has to the Guyanese government and the damage the toxins have already caused to the river’s fish. A leak that was huge! Was the leak caused by nature? Was it intentional and if so why would anyone want to take away the one source of water for the people of Marshal’s Landing? There’s more as the players come into place and two more take center stage as Jack invites his friends Robert and Kazuko to come and help. But, things do not go as planned and both Kazuko and Pillai are taken by Gourde and his men but not before Jack and Robert find themselves in Gourde’s hands too. Circumstances change, forced to cooperate and go along with their demands both Jack and Robert find themselves pawns in a deadly game. With the Ministry of Health informed and the knowledge shared about the dead animals you would think more would be done to close down the mining company and prevent any more deaths. But, the men in charge have a goal and gold his their primary concern as the stench of death permeates the air and the mining operation suffered due to the breach in its tailings pond intends to achieve its goals. Cyanide the caused the leak into the water, killing the fish but not really the prime concern of the mining company but what about the government, the police and the Ministry of health? What was his fate and just how far would Gourde go to attain what he wants? Kidnapping both Kazuko and Pillai he thought he would use them as shields to get what he wanted. Little did he know that one would escape but the other would bring the primary person controlling the sale of the gold and the hidden source behind the sale a drug lord named Salazar to the forefront. As the story continues to unfold and the demands are met by many sides we learn just how far Gourde will go to get what he wants but not before being double crossed by one of his own and the end result of the double cross would bring more than just the threats of Billaud his boss but the drug lord too. When the truths are revealed and more lives are lost, greed takes a front row seat and the author shares that there are large amounts of gold and diamonds being dug from the Amazon basin and this mining company and its illegal practices are not only causing the deaths of the fish but working without permits. But, the government is counting on the money and revenue from the taxes on the production of the gold accounts to increase and enhance their operating budge. Drug dealers want to seek methods to make profits and have them appear to be legitimate. But, things get out of control. Robert and Jack need to find a way to save Kazuko and the race to finding her begins hoping to save her before it’s too late. As things spiral out of control for the drug lord, Kazuko is being used for his folly, Gourde is impatient and just wants to make the sale something changes it all. An unexpected source comes to help Jack and Robert but without the proper manpower, weapons and the lack of help from the police can they succeed before more lives are lost? Will Kazuko remain in the hands of the drug lord or will Jack and his men will they get there in time? An ending that will take you deep inside the waters that are filled with contaminants, having to hold your breath, not swallowing any water and hanging on for your life as Jack takes on Gourde and is in for the fight of his life in order to protect the people he cares about the most. Loyalties are tested, friendships are soldered and a spark is ignited between Pillai and Jack. Will he make it out or will he wind up like the fish? What about Kazuko will they save her in time before the drug lord uses her as his latest puta? As Kazuko stands up for herself a killer is determined to not only bring her down but not before focusing on the gold, his primary concern. When greed, wealth, power and control take over and your every thought is consumed with how much more you can get the end result just might be you wind up with what you deserve! Jack Ferrell: killing does not faze him. Joining the deadly race to safe his friends done without giving it a second thought. California had a gold rush from 1848-1855. James W. Marshall at Sutter’s Mill in Coloma, California found gold. Imagine 300,000 people coming by sea or land to seek gold. These gold-seekers faced many hardships and the gold nuggets that found were picked off the ground. Because of the worth of the gold and where financing was needed mining companies became important. But, the mining company within this book is quite different and their goals not quite the same and the end result will bring a cash value that you won’t expect and an ending that will keep you breathless.
Characters that are strong, each having their own personality and each solid in their own way. Kazuko strong willed, smart, crafty and a survivor. Pillai smart, tenacious and clever. Jack resourceful, trustworthy, loyal, dangerous in his own right and Robert never giving up on his goal, as author William Nikkel brings to light just how far some will go to attain what they feel is their ultimate BLOOD GOLD!
Fran Lewis: let’s give this novel: FIVE REAL GOLD BARS