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Write On Ottawa: Riveting novel by Deborah Jackson is a page-turning treat

By Alejandro Bustos on November 22, 2013

In a remote region of Mexico, while exploring one of the deepest caves in the world, a group of scientists becomes hopelessly lost.  Among the trapped group is Kat Delaney, an expert caver and microbiologist.

When Kat’s husband Mark discovers that she is missing, he immediately flies from Canada to save his wife.  On his arrival in Mexico, however, his rescue attempt hits a roadblock when he discovers that nobody wants to take him to the dangerous (and, according to some, cursed) cave.

After some prodding, Mark hires a mysterious Maya man named Jorge as his guide, even if Jorge’s motives are suspect. While the two men rush to save the lost group, the trapped scientists uncover a secret inside the bowels of the cave, which is linked to an ancient Maya city.

This great plot forms the basis of the very enjoyable Sinkhole, the latest novel by local writer Deborah Jackson.

With its fast-paced action and rich scientific details, this thriller is a pleasure to read.  In particular, I enjoyed the fascinating references to biology, caving, microsurgery, revolutionary politics and Maya culture, which were interspersed among a healthy dose of exhilarating adventure.

“(The novel was) was based on research,” Jackson tells me in a phone interview, when I asked how she came up with the plot. “I have been to Mexico, but (the idea) came from a National Geographic article about the race to the deepest caves in the world.”

Her other scientific ideas, like surgery performed by a nano-sized submarine, or bacteria with special healing powers, were also derived from her extensive research.  Jackson’s reading clearly paid off, as her detailed descriptions bring the caving experience to life.

In many parts of the book, I could feel the fear of the trapped characters as they struggled through narrow tunnels, avoided deadly bacteria, and crumbled to the ground in exhaustion from the immense physical challenge posed by the cave.

Interested readers can meet Jackson in person tomorrow (Saturday, November 23), when she will be joining other local authors and one local comic book publisher for a book sale at the Main Branch of the Ottawa Public Library.  The event is part of Support Local month.

Writing for the past 10 years, Jackson is the author of five books, including the Time Meddlers series for young adults.  Sinkhole, however, is meant for adults.  (As a side note, Sinkhole would in my view make a great movie, as the action is as captivating as any Indiana Jones thriller).

Looking forward, Jackson is planning on releasing another novel for young adults.  “My next project is with the editor and is called Mosaic,” she says.  “It’s a ghost-pirate story.”

If the writing is anywhere near as good as Sinkhole, it will be a book that will definitely be worth reading.