By Dwight Harshbarger
In an Appalachian Mountain Valley with shoulder to shoulder chemical plants, an
explosion at one of them, the German-owned Kabot AgriBus, kills two workers.
Fear of a toxic MIC gas release triggers a community-wide shelter-in-place -
residents must stay inside, seal all doors and windows. Julie, a newspaper
reporter, investigates the explosion. Her former fiancee, Ben, works in public
relations at the plant. Twenty-five years earlier, Benâ€™s older brother, a
hemophiliac and child-prodigy pianist, had died of AIDS. Unable to identify a
cause of Rogerâ€™s disease, Benâ€™s mother blamed herself for not protecting him.
She has carried that guilt for a lifetime. Working closely with the newspaperâ€™s
managing editor, Julie unearths Kabotâ€™s cover-up of the causes of the explosion
and the magnitude of the continuing chemical risks faced by the Valley. Her
findings fuel a congressional investigation and public censure of Kabot. As her
investigation deepens, Julie soon uncovers a harrowing truth - one that sends
tremors through the Valley and her relationships leaving her searching for her
â€œExcellent! Excellent! Excellent! This is a
beautiful and engrossing story featuring rich, complex characters and a dynamic
plot that had me eagerly waiting to turn the next page.â€ â€“ Eliot
Parker, author of Breakdown at Clear River and Making Arrangements
"Progress can be an illusion, as Dwight
Harshbarger's compelling novel about a West Virginia chemical-plant disaster
shows us. While some gain, others loseâ€”profoundly. Harshbarger deftly charts
the lives of a small town's winners and losers, and brings us a protagonist
who, though caught in the middle, is determined to uncover the truth."
- Mark Brazaitis, author of Julia & Rodrigo
"Through the eyes of an investigative reporter, Valley at Risk: Shelter in Place gives us a chilling and deeply personal look into the
lives of people living in the shadow of an enormous amount of toxic chemicals.
Harshbarger describes the human errors that led to a horrifying fatal chemical
plant explosion, one that nearly became an American Bhopal. We see ordinary
citizens successfully standing up to a huge chemical corporation. But even in
victory, the people of the valley continue to breathe air laced with toxic
chemicals. Harshbarger's novel opens windows into the chemical industry's dark past,
and its living presence--what we face today."
- Richard Meilbers, author Falling Off the Wind
About the author:
Dwight Harshbarger is a native West Virginian. He is the author of two previous novels, In the Heart of the Hills: A Novel in Stories, 2005, and the award-winning Witness at Hawks Nest, 2009. Dwight holds a Ph.D. in psychology. He has served as a professor of psychology and professor of public health at West Virginia Uni-versity, and as executive director of the Cambridge (Massachusetts) Center for Behavioral Studies. He is a fellow of the American Psychological Association and the Association for Psychological Science. Dwight has served as a senior executive in two corporations and has done extensive organizational consulting in the USA and Asia. He is currently an adjunct professor of public health at West Virginia University.