The Alphabet Men is the first book in the Desperate Measures series: a hard look into a not-so distant future, where the consequences for today’s apathy are explored and exposed. Loosely tied to the highly acclaimed Desperate Times series, this is a stand-alone work that combines all of the elements desperate readers have come to expect, while shedding light on one of the most explosive issues of our time.
When natural gas is discovered hiding deep beneath Paul Hovey’s cornfields, the aging farmer is flooded with requests to lease his land to allow drilling. Hovey refuses. He is alone in the world and the money means nothing to him. The farm has been in the Hovey family for generations, the only life he has ever known. The State of Minnesota soon steps in and uses their power of eminent domain to forcibly evict him.
Hovey’s best friend is Sheriff Mike Brannon, and it is Brannon who is forced to deliver the bad news. Hovey vows to fight his eviction and Brannon takes it upon himself to call a mutual friend, Ken Dahlgren. Dahlgren promises to be there as soon as he can. Brannon eventually leaves the farm and drives back to Alvine, the small farming community he has been elected to protect. Brannon is shocked to find his little town being overrun by thundering herds of semi-trucks. Those trucks are pulling tanker-trailers to haul the (controversial) fluid necessary for the drilling operation. Furthermore, Brannon quickly discovers that another group has descended upon his peaceful refuge. Brannon meets Travis Meeker, the leader of a protest group that is dead-set against the practice of hydraulic fracturing, (which is the method to be used in the drilling operation to extract the natural gas under the Hovey farm.) Meeker contends that the tons of toxic chemicals Blue Sing Energy mixes into the millions of gallons of “fracking” fluid, will eventually work their way up into the groundwater.
Brannon, like the natural gas, is stuck between a rock and a hard place. Like so many people, Mike and Joy Brannon heat their home and cook with natural gas. Brannon knows that the discovery is a huge financial boom for his struggling town. Still, he also secretly admires Meeker for standing up for what he believes in and the two men become friends. Brannon even allows Meeker to attend a meeting he has with the drilling people to lay down some ground rules. Blue Sing Energy surprises everyone with news that they plan to use a new, eco-friendly, fracking fluid that they’ve developed in a partnership with herbicide and fertilizer giant, Sinmanco. Meeker is not only unimpressed by the announcement, he is absolutely livid. He contends that Sinmanco has been poisoning the planet for decades and that the pairing is a match made in hell. Sparks soon fly. People are murdered.
The murders are classified as federal crimes and the FBI sends two agents to Alvine to investigate. Special Agent Joshua and his underling, Special Agent Blackwood, seem determined to ignore the obvious and somehow their investigation leads them to the Brannon’s. Meeker, who is an attorney and teaches Constitutional Law in Minneapolis, is certain the Brannon’s are being framed and steps in to help.
Ken Dahlgren enlists some friends to help in Alvine, and Jimmy Logan and Bill Huggins arrive on the scene. Brannon has known Logan for many years, but has never met Bill Huggins. He soon learns that Huggins is a social misfit and quickly wishes they had never met.
The resulting tale is a wild, entertaining ride that sheds light on ugly issues swept under the proverbial rug, or worse: patriotically spun by powerful forces, determined to further their own agendas.
Desperate Measures is fiction for hungry minds: a literary appetizer, served with hope that readers will further investigate these important issues.