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Badwater (The Forensic Geology Series Book 1) [Kindle Edition]

Toni Dwiggins
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (130 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Volcano Watch (Book 2) just 99 cents!
Quicksilver (Prequel) free!
* Golden Bot Award ( Best Whodunit *

Forensic geologists Cassie Oldfield and Walter Shaws embark on a perilous hunt--tracking a terrorist who has stolen radioactive material that is hotter than the desert in August. He threatens to release it in America's most fragile national park, Death Valley.

But first he must stop the geologists who are closing in.

As the hunt turns dangerous, Cassie and Walter will need grit along with their field skills to survive this case. For they are up against more than pure human malice. The unstable atom--in the hands of an unstable man--is governed by Murphy's Law. Whatever can go wrong, will go wrong.

And it does.

Editorial Reviews


"Fans of Nevada Barr will love this suspenseful literary mystery."
~ Lisa Brackmann, Amazon Top 10 Mystery and Thriller author

"The best closing act of any book I have read in years."
~'s GeekDad, Golden Bot Award Best Indie Whodunit

"The mystery kept me guessing, the suspense made me sweat, and the pace was as blistering as the heat in Death Valley."
~ Good Book Alert

"A fast paced thriller with the terrifying theme of radiation exposure as a weapon. CSI type fans will appreciate the science...even those of us less well versed in the technical side will feel the fear and horror as events unfold."
~ Bookstack Reviews

“A very fine job of characterizing the disconnect between measures intended to assure safety and the reality of things sometimes being unsafe. Truly well-written and engaging."
~ David Lochbaum, head of the Nuclear Safety Project, Union of Concerned Scientists

From the Back Cover

Science Thriller  ~  Forensic Mystery  ~  Environmental Fiction

"Her series on the geological sleuth is spellbinding"
    ~ Amazon reviewer

Product Details

  • File Size: 887 KB
  • Print Length: 316 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1463579284
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005466WQ6
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #54,957 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
43 of 46 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Radioactive Thriller December 9, 2011
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I enjoyed BADWATER by Toni Dwiggins, an independently published thriller that compares well with traditionally published paperbacks available at any bookstore.

Cassie Oldfield and Walter Shaws are forensic geologists--a new term to me, but I know about it now thanks to the book--who are called in to assist in the investigation of missing radioactive waste in Death Valley. The setting is well described, the technology well researched, and the bad guys engineer diabolical plot twists. The action continues right up to the end.

My only gripe worth mentioning has to do with the narrative perspective. The book is written in a mix of first and third person that I personally find to be distracting. I don't know if this is a recent trend in fiction--this is the second book I've recently read that does this--but I find it jarring at each change. It may well be a personal preference, but I can't help but penalize a star for it.

BADWATER gets three stars from me, others who don't mind the narrative perspective would likely rate it higher.
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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Chilling... July 5, 2011
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Dwiggins' intro into the world of forensic geologists Cassie Oldfield and Walter Shaws offers a chilling view inside the messy business of hazardous waste disposal; in this case, highly-toxic radioactive waste that has fallen into the wrong hands--for a devastating purpose.

Set in the harsh, gorgeous, and dangerously barren landscape of California's Death Valley, Dwiggins pushes her characters to their limits. They are in constant danger, from sheer exposure to the elements of their setting to exposure to the radioactive waste they are hunting.

There are a number of surprising twists and turns involving the villains, and their multi-layered development makes it difficult to determine who they are, and their true motives, until the very end. The most frightening aspect in the story is the radioactive material itself; Dwiggins does an excellent job of creating this "character" without bogging the reader down with too many scientific facts or confusing jargon. It simply comes alive in her prose and takes on a life of its own, which raises the stakes even more for those who are trying to find it, and those who want to control it.

In the end, it is the radioactive waste that emerges as the true villain, showing how humans--bad guys or not--are at the mercy of nature itself.
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23 of 26 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition
Badwater receives a rating of 3 stars from this reviewer. However, I could recommend this book to readers who are selectively looking for a mild thriller with a basis in the desert SW (specifically Death Valley).

The story is set in Death Valley and follows a pair of forensic geologists who are using their expertise in helping the FBI track down a terrorist (U.S. grown) who has stolen nuclear waste.

A reader interested in desert geology and nuclear waste storage as part of a thriller could easily give Badwater 4 stars. My rating of 3 stars indicates that it is a "good book", with quality writing and research, and worth the time to read -- for the right reader. I personally found the background information concerning nuclear waste more interesting than the geological part of this story. This might be more of a result of living in a state of 10,000 lakes with very limited knowledge of the desert.

If you like a thriller with a forensic science base, then Badwater might be a perfect match for you.

Anthony Wessel (for the Kindle Book Review) and owner of
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Badwater is Geology at its Best December 4, 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I'm not big on crime investigation stories, but I do have a degree in geology, so I couldn't resist this book. The story brings us a pair of forensic geologists who use soil samples and rock types to solve crimes. In this case, they are on the trail of stolen radioactive waste, through Death Valley, California, one of the most amazing places on the planet.

This is simply one of the best books I've ever read. The characters are strong, realistic, and sympathetic. The lead character is Cassie, and yes, I'm delighted she's a woman. Lots of geologists are women, but geology somehow still has a macho, guy-thing reputation. This story has Cassie tramping through the heat and hills of Death Valley and enduring radiation exposure, while protecting Walter, her older boss and mentor, who is strong, but has a heart problem. Cassie carries the action with a believable blend of ethics, intelligence, and humor.

Geology and radioactivity are explained in seamless narrative or dialogue, never once detracting from the action. This is not a simple thing to pull off, but author Toni Dwiggins makes it look easy. The book is not long, but she layers plot twists and "who-dun-it" mystique throughout, taking the reader on a high-stakes guessing game scattered with scientists, truck drivers, mine owners, and government managers.

Highly recommended.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Deeply fascinating, impeccable thriller-- September 14, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
A first note for readers who are intrigued but not persuaded by the sample: this story progresses, or 'stacks' to a flawless and shocking resolution, but takes its time to do so. Do not be deceived by the meditative tone of the first pages. This is a thriller, and you will be thrilled. The relationship between place, professional culture, and character distinctly reminds of Tony Hillerman. Cassie is to her mentor Walter, perhaps, as Jim Chee is to the older, wiser, Lieutenant Joe Leaphorn.
Consider forensic geology as a lever the author uses to pry into motivations, both superficial and deep, forensic geology as a lens to examine friend and foe in almost any working environment, forensic geology a descriptive science to establish absolute authenticity of place, and time. Brilliant. Done in subtle and lovely language:"'s the heart of Death Valley, a mammoth basin, faulted and dropped below sea level, bordered by knife ridged mountains which spill their guts, here and there, in coquettish fans..."
You are in that place and nowhere else.
You will find no cardboard characters here.
A proper villain, introduced early, keeps his hair in a long black braid, "because women liked to braid it"--and men notice it, consequently ignoring his ruthless attention to detail. So...a braid to seduce, is also a braid to screw...other people. Really neat.
As charming and provocative a character as you will ever find, Hap, relates a story in which he may, or may not, have killed a fellow co-worker in a holding tank for spent nuclear fuel rods, will still love him.
The kind of character, let's call them "function characters" in most books, who answer phones, give orders, etc.
Read more ›
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars I liked this story a lot
I liked this story a lot, although there were some elements I wasn't familiar with, in the nuclear waste business.
Published 1 day ago by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars Well worth the read!
It was slow to start, but once it took off it really grab you. A good read. It is hard to describe the desert in Death Valley, but this author did an excellent job of describing... Read more
Published 6 days ago by Birdy
5.0 out of 5 stars Thoroughly enjoyed this book
I have to say that after reading a bunch of the reviews I was heavily sceptical and almost didn't buy this book. I studied Geology though, and I was intrigued. Read more
Published 8 days ago by Jonathan Dobson
5.0 out of 5 stars Another great book by Toni Dwiggins!
I first read Volcano Watch (#2 in the series) and then had to read this one as well. It's so nice when you enjoy characters and get to share new adventures with them! Read more
Published 18 days ago by Savvy Shopper
3.0 out of 5 stars Good plot, average development
This is an average thriller with some interesting exploration of the field of forensic geology (if there is such a thing). Read more
Published 29 days ago by John C. Fain
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
It was a good story but just not to my liking.
Published 1 month ago by Pattydoll
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
I enjoyed books one and three in the series best.
Published 1 month ago by Unknown
4.0 out of 5 stars Good book
Very interesting book, but I found it a little wordy at times, possibly could have been edited a little more. Good story, great character development. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Kevin Schwartman
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Very interesting first time read for this Author.
Published 2 months ago by Ted Jonas
1.0 out of 5 stars Badwater - bad book
Unless you are a science geek, or a geologist, i don't recommend this book. In fact, i don't think even the large number of geologists i once worked with would be interested. Read more
Published 3 months ago by chillygirl
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More About the Author

Amazon bestselling author Toni Dwiggins is a third-generation Californian who migrated from southern Cal to northern Cal. What she likes most about her state is that one can go from the ocean to the mountains in one day, with a lunch stop in the desert. She likes it so much she has chosen those settings for her forensic geology books. These stories feature a young woman and her father-figure mentor, who analyze earth evidence to solve crimes and crises--and in the process get entangled in outdoor adventure and thrills.

Her book Badwater won's Golden Bot Award for the 'Best Whodunit.'

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A splendid story for science thriller fans"

From Amazon reviewers:

"A sitting-on-the-edge-of-your-chair kind of adventure"

"Fascinating, Terrifying - Like Playing with Mercury"

"Neat CSI stuff"

"Illuminates an aspect of the California Gold Rush that I had no idea existed"

"I feel I am right there with Cassie and Walter, trying to find a way out"

"An amazing rollercoaster ride!"

"Fans of Nevada Barr will love this suspenseful literary mystery."
--Lisa Brackmann, Amazon Top 10 Mystery and Thriller author

"The best closing act of any book I have read in years."'s GeekDad, Golden Bot Award Best Indie Whodunit

"The mystery kept me guessing, the suspense made me sweat, and the pace was as blistering as the heat in Death Valley."
--Good Book Alert

"A fast paced thriller with the terrifying theme of radiation exposure as a weapon. CSI type fans will appreciate the science...even those of us less well versed in the technical side will feel the fear and horror as events unfold."
--Bookstack Reviews

"I couldn't put this one down!"

From Amazon reviewers:

"An exciting character-driven thriller, fast-paced, in which a mountain blows up. What more could you want?"

"If you enjoy 'literary mysteries' or Nevada Barr, you will love this book."

"As a geothermal thriller, this ranks with Free Fire by C.J. Box."

"This is a hybrid of murder mystery and action thriller, and it works well both ways."

"I was pulled along by a story that developed an intensity that almost did me in."

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