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Eureka: Substitution Method Mass Market Paperback – August 31, 2010

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Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Chapter Two

Carter pulled the key out of the ignition and hopped out of the Jeep. Seth Osbourne was already waiting for him, arms crossed, and once again Carter marveled at the fact that you could never judge a book by its cover. Tall and broad (and a bit round), with thick beefy arms and jowls and a menacing glower, all Osbourne needed was the too-tight black T-shirt, the jeans, and the club-sized Maglite to be the standard image of a bouncer. Instead he was a scientist, and a brilliant one. Cranky and difficult with a tendency to break the rules—like so many other Eureka residents—but brilliant nonetheless.

"What seems to be the problem, Seth?" Carter asked as he walked over. He noticed that Osbourne's car—a beautifully restored Mustang he'd reconfigured to run on nuclear power cells—was sitting off to one side of the driveway under a dustcover, and he felt a twinge of guilt. The last time he'd been out here it had been to confiscate those same power cells, which Osbourne had resisted turning in despite a GD demand. Of course, someone else had gotten to it first, but Carter still felt bad about being even peripherally involved with shutting down such an awesome car.

"It's Fargo," the heavyset scientist told him. He kept his arms crossed, which meant there would be no welcoming handshake. That was fine. The two of them had never been particularly cordial. Carter did his best to get along with everyone in Eureka—it was part of his job—but some residents were easier than others. "He's at it again."

"Yeah, you said that on the phone. What exactly do you mean by 'at it'?" Privately, Carter was really hoping Osbourne was wrong. He knew Fargo well, better than he knew most of the people here, and though they weren't exactly friends they did associate a lot. And Fargo was frequently very helpful in solving the problems Carter faced. Of course, he'd also been responsible for a few of those problems, but nobody was perfect.

Fargo and Osbourne did have a history, though. Fargo's trailer was just on the other side of Osbourne's property, and the two had gotten into a pretty nasty dispute about noise at one point last year—Osbourne had been blaring opera in the middle of the night to encourage the growth of his experimental plants and had refused to consider his neighbors' attempts to sleep. He'd also ignored Carter's cease-and-desist. The feud had risen to an all-out war, with Fargo sneaking in to sabotage Osbourne's speakers, and the two had actually come to blows—though admittedly that had been at least partially the plants' fault, because their pollen had released people's ids, causing them to act without restraint.

Carter was hoping to avoid such unpleasantness this time around.

But Osbourne was clearly out for blood. "Take a look!" he insisted, and led Carter around to the side of the house—and a field of colorful flowers.

"Oh, come on!" Carter couldn't help saying. "We talked about this, Seth! No more plants, remember?"

"No more experimental plants," Osbourne corrected him. "And I haven't. I've stayed entirely in other fields since then." Of course, one of those fields had been bioluminescence, which had led to some other problems for the town, but Carter decided it wouldn't be politic to point that out just now. "These are just regular plants, entirely for color and fragrance and the natural calming effect such beauty produces." His brow furrowed. "Or at least they were!"

"Okay, then I'm not seeing the problem." Carter studied the flowers. "They all look healthy to me."

"That's not the point! Look at this one! And this one! And that one!" Osbourne was gesturing to one of the rows of flowers, and Carter tried to pay more attention. He really wasn't a plant person. At all. In fact, back when he'd been married, his wife had accused him of having a black thumb more than once. Of course, the fact that she'd never remembered to water the plants might have had something to do with their dying, but try convincing her of that. Anyway, all he could tell was that these were bright and cheerful, with pretty yellow petals clustered around a thick stalk, and the smooth-edged leaves were a vibrant green.

"What's wrong with them, exactly?" he asked after another minute.

"Are you blind as well as stupid?" Osbourne burst out. This was exactly why they'd never gotten along. "They're Linaria genistifolia dalmatica!" Carter just stared at him. "Dalmatian toadflax?" Osbourne threw up his hands. "They're weeds!"

"So you have weeds? That's the big emergency here?" Carter was sure he was missing something, but for the life of him he couldn't figure out what. "What's the big deal? Can't you just pull them and plant something else in their place? And what does this have to do with Fargo?" He couldn't exactly see the wiry little science geek out here planting flowers—or weeds. No matter how much he hated Osbourne.

But Osbourne wasn't about to be pacified. "I did have something else there!" he replied, his volume rising as he grew more agitated. "I had Rosa rugosa there! The entire row is Rosa rugosa!" Now that he mentioned it, Carter did notice that all the other plants around those three were very different—they were wider and bushier, with shorter, thinner, serrated-edged leaves, and their flowers were delicate pale pink blossoms with small light yellow centers. "And Fargo ruined it!"

Carter held up a hand to forestall any more accusations. "Look, I can see that these plants are different," he agreed, ignoring Osbourne's muttered "How astute of you!" and continuing, "but I don't see what any of this has to do with Fargo. You said these Dalmatian plants are weeds, right?"

"Of course!" Osbourne looked personally offended. "They're an escaped perennial ornamental from the eighteen hundreds. Highly aggressive." Carter repressed sudden images of these plants breaking out of a greenhouse and rampaging down the highway, shoving cars out of their way and beating up pedestrians. No sense borrowing trouble. This was Eureka, after all—stranger things had happened. "Once their root system is established, they're extremely difficult to remove," Osbourne was explaining. "And most herbicides are ineffective. Though I have a few that might do the trick."

"Uh-uh," Carter warned him. "The last thing I need is you killing all the vegetation for a twenty-mile radius!" Osbourne actually had the decency to look embarrassed. "But I still don't see how or why you think Fargo had anything to do with this. Couldn't these weeds have simply blown into your garden and taken root?"

Now the big scientist's discomfort switched to condescension, which was certainly more typical for him. "Do you have any idea what sort of growth cycle Linaria genistifolia dalmatica has?" he demanded. "No, of course you don't—look who I'm talking to. I'm surprised you even know they need dirt and water! It would take weeks for a Linaria genistifolia dalmatica to reach this height, much less flower. And these weren't here yesterday!"

Carter sighed and scratched his chin. Despite the insults, Osbourne had a point. There was no way the weeds had grown there overnight—well, not no way, but he suspected such phenomenal plant growth would have affected all the surrounding plants as well, and they were all neatly tended. So something had brought these Dalmatian plants here. But Fargo? Why would Fargo replace three of Osbourne's flowers with weeds? As far as he knew, the two had been keeping a safe distance from each other since that last incident—why stir up trouble now?

Squatting down, Carter studied the weeds—and the soil around them. "This doesn't look disturbed at all," he commented after a second, tracing the base of one plant with his finger. "The dirt here isn't loose, and there isn't any clinging to the lower leaves." He might not know plants, but he did know evidence. Or the lack thereof.

Osbourne crouched next to him and examined the spot he indicated. "No," he admitted after a second, though he clearly wasn't happy about it. "Whoever did this did a masterful planting job."

"Well, that rules Fargo out," Carter told him, straightening up. This time it was Osbourne who stared, and he got to explain. "Oh, think about it! You know Fargo! Sure, he's clever, but he's a total klutz! There's no way he could plant those things there without making a mess—he'd have dirt strewn all over your garden, and tracks everywhere!" He glanced around again just to confirm what he'd already noticed without registering it fully—sure enough, the only fresh tracks here were one set of his boots and several of Osbourne's extra-wide sandals. "You're looking at the wrong guy."

"Well, someone did this to my garden!" The beefy scientist insisted. "These plants didn't replace themselves!"

"Are you sure?" Carter asked him. "And are you sure there isn't anything you're not telling me? Like some new plant formula you're testing, or some hybrid seed you're developing?"

"No, of course not. I cultivate these flowers strictly for relaxation." But Osbourne didn't meet his gaze.

"Uh-huh." Carter brushed the dirt off his pant legs. "Well, I'll do some poking around—not literally—and see if any of your Rosa rugosa turn up anywhere else, and if anyone's been playing with these Dalmatian plants. But right now I'd say your best bet is just to pull the weeds, plant a few more of those other things, and forget about it."

"It's not that easy," Osbourne muttered as Carter turned to go. "It takes months for them to reach flowering height—though if I altered the formula by adding…;"

Carter left the big scientist there mumbling to himself and returned to his Jeep. He would keep his ears open, but he had a feeling nothing would come of it. Osbourne had probably let a few of those weeds creep in unnoticed, and then watered them with some super growth formula he probably wasn't supposed to be messing with, and now he'd rather blame Fargo than admit his own mistake.

Well, Carter thought as he pulled out and headed back to the office, at least it had gotten him out of his chair for a while. Maybe something else had happened while he was gone, something a little more exciting than some random weeds appearing in a garden. But if there'd been real trouble, Jo would have called him.

On the way back, Carter spotted a tall, lean figure walking along the side of the road. He was wearing tan slacks and a bright blue Hawaiian shirt, and the top of his head glistened in the sun. It was Dr. Baker—or one of the Dr. Bakers, at least. There were several of them, and they all looked exactly alike. In fact, Carter had no idea how many there were—he'd seen at least four of them together at one time, but he often suspected there were more because some days it seemed like everywhere he turned there was a Dr. Baker crossing the street or reading the paper or eating a bagel. It was hard to tell for certain, though, because it seemed like they always dressed exactly the same. Strange.

Carter slowed alongside him and rolled down his passenger-side window. "Morning, Dr. Baker," he called out.

"Morning." None of the Bakers were very talkative. At least not to him.

This one continued walking, and Carter kept pace. He'd already noticed that Dr. Baker wasn't wearing a hat, and in this heat that wasn't a good idea, especially for a man with so little hair. Plus he seemed rather flushed, and his shirt was soaked with sweat. "Out for a little walk?"

"Apparently."

Carter considered that one. Was Dr. Baker being sarcastic? He was used to that from so many of Eureka's residents, but he'd never seen the Bakers employ it, at least not in his direction. And it had actually sounded sincere—less of a Can't you tell? and more of an I guess so.

After another minute of driving alongside, he decided to make the offer. "Can I give you a ride back to town?"

He was more than a little surprised when Dr. Baker stopped, turned, and gave him a smile. The sunlight winked off his wire-frame glasses. "Thank you, I would appreciate that."

"Well, okay, then." Carter braked and popped the passenger-side lock, and Dr. Baker pulled open the door and slid into the seat, shutting the door firmly behind him. He buckled in conscientiously, and once he was ready Carter started moving again.

"I hadn't planned on taking a walk this morning," Dr. Baker informed him abruptly after they'd been driving a few minutes. "Actually, I thought my brother was taking a walk. That's why I don't have a hat on."

"O-kay." Carter wasn't really sure how else to respond to that. He'd thought his brother was taking a walk, not him? Did they take turns and this one had forgotten it was his day to walk?

"Yes, by the time I realized I was the one walking, I was already outside of town," Baker continued. "There was nothing for it but to walk back. Until you came along." He smiled at Carter again. "Thank you again."

"You're welcome," Carter assured him. He was more confused than ever about the Bakers, but that didn't surprise him. This one walked all the way out of town before realizing it, and that's why he didn't have a hat on? These guys were weird!

Carter tried to ignore the fact that the hair on the back of his neck was standing up. Somehow, in Eureka, whenever he noticed something was weird, it wound up becoming a problem. And usually a dangerous one at that.

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Product Details

  • Series: Eureka (Book 1)
  • Mass Market Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Ace (August 31, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0441018858
  • ISBN-13: 978-0441018857
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 0.8 x 6.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #409,168 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

CRIS RAMSAY is the hard-working writer responsible for the Eureka tie-in novels. Cris gives full credit to literary inspirations Aaron Rosenberg and Phaedra Weldon, without whom the Eureka novels would not have been possible.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Matthew S. Spence on September 8, 2010
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
When I saw that a novel tie-in for the Syfy's original series, Eureka, (Eureka - Season One)- I figured I would pick it up as I truly love the show. The book itself takes place between season 3.5 and 4, and overall was a quite enjoyable read. Overall the book would have made an excellent two part episode.

If you are familiar with the show than you already know what you are going to get, and in all honesty if you are not a fan I doubt you'll find yourself on this page, but I shall provide a quick synopsis regardless. Sheriff Jack Carter, former US Marshal, finds himself as the Sheriff for a small town in Oregon called Eureka- which is a secret town that houses a goodly portion of all the world's geniuses. Carter is constantly trying to save the town from one science experiment run amok after the other, whilst also trying to raise his teenage daughter and find love. Carter usually saves the town with his good old fashioned common sense, something that is often missing in the big brained scientists that reside in the town. This story involves, as the title suggests, an experiment run amok that begins switching one thing with another, at first it substitutes flowers for weeds, and then people from one side of town to another, but when it starts switching whole buildings, and the scientist that started it all can not be found- it seems imminent disaster is on the horizon.

For fans of the series, all your favorite characters make an appearance, and get plenty of page time.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By SciFiChick VINE VOICE on November 15, 2010
Format: Mass Market Paperback
The small town of Eureka is a top secret installation and home to the greatest scientific minds in the country. Jack Carter is a sheriff of average intelligence, but routinely has to save the town from their own inventions-gone-haywire. What starts off as an almost boring day, soon spirals out of control when cars, homes and even humans start switching places. Sherriff Carter must discover who and what is behind the increasing displacements before the general public finds out too much and before the military steps in.

The first in a new series of tie-ins from the hit Syfy Network show, Substitution Method is set in the time period just prior to the current 4th season. And author Ramsay skillfully depicts the show's entire regular cast, along with the eccentric Aussie tracker Taggert. These fantastic characters are thrown into a crazy situation that feels exactly like the television show, yet without the limits of visual effects. The plot is suspenseful, fast-paced, and creative. Favorite scenes are when Deputy Jo finds herself and the office switched with a gun shop and when Zane and Taggart switch places and find themselves in each other's homes. Awkwardness and hilarity ensue. Loaded with drama, hi-tech peril, mystery, and the ever-present lighthearted humor - fans of the show will love this new tie-in series.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By MJAFL on September 16, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I finished watching every episode of Eureka on Netflix and decided to see what there might be for tie-in novels. I will admit I was hoping for more than 3, but it is a decent start. So I downloaded this first one. It is an enjoyable read, and as a few other reviewers have typed, you can almost hear the character's voices as you read the story, with their responses and phrasing true to character. The concept is decent, reasonable well developed, but as others have said, a bit drawn out. So far, pleased with the story. so why only 3 stars

The reason I can only give this 3 stars is some of the mistakes in the story in what the characters say and do. A few examples:

1) Jo takes the car around a tight right turn, lifting two tires off the pavement, then the author talks how the left hand tires miss the curb because they are in the air... If you go around a right hand turn fast enough to go to two wheels, it would be the right hand tires in the air, not the left.

2) Jo uses a device that stops an internal combustion engine by creating a magnetic field "that affected the carburetor of any vehicle within 250 feet. Ok, I'll go along. The device works great -stopping the car in front of her. But, for some unexplained reason, the field has no impact on the engine of the vehicle she is driving, which continues to work fine.

3) Vincent talks about his backup fusion generator that takes in hydrogen and oxygen and splits them. Splitting atoms is fission, not fusion. A person in Eureka would have known this fact. Even if we buy that Vincent doesn't, (which I don't) the person who made/sold sure would have know the difference.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Jorge Frid on December 23, 2010
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Repetitive

The plot is good but the problem is how many times can you read about moving homes from one town to another? I agree that every move has its own problems nevertheless you read and read about the same thing and almost the same problems and that will bore you. I finished the book only to see how they solved the problem, and that wasn't worth it either.
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