HH Com 166

Something is killing killer whales. The federal government has declared the Southern Resident killer whale population in the Pacific Northwest endangered. Now it seems someone wants to add whale biologists to the list. Biologist Tony Small and colleague Lucky Smith were recording another dead whale when three rifle shots echoed across the water of Haro Strait. It wasn't Tony's lucky day. The police decide Tony's death was an accident. Lucky knows it was not. However, she does not know who shot Tony or why. Or whether she was the intended target.

The Smith Foundation, established by Lucky's parents contributes large sums of money to scientific research and environmental causes including getting the ESA designation for the orca. Lucky begins to realize someone wants that money and to control how it's being spent. Diverse groups who fear the endangered species designation will restrict development and agriculture have powerful connections. Money is channeled into a lawsuit opposing the ESA. As Lucky probes the parties on both sides of the suit, connections between disparate enemies lead to the knowledge that a supposed friend harbors such deep resentment and hatred they are willing to kill more than once to get what they covet. Either she finds a way to stop them, or she'll be as dead as the whales.

Nameless faceless evil is boring. And thinking the Endangered Species Act or designation will be the end of the world is sooooo yesterday. It was passed in 1973 for dog sake and even the lamest corporate lackey knows it didn't end the world.

Plus, why would someone kill killer whales to avoid having them designated endangered? You'd think they'd be offering up Viagra and CDs of Johnny Mathis at the Killer Whale Bar and Grill hoping for lust in the tide pool of life.

Focus on the crux of the story: control of the money. Are her parents dead? Does she have any say in how the money is spent? And does she want to spend it on whale viagra?



December Quinn said...

I'm a little confused. Tony's shot to death, and the police just say, "Oh, it was an accident"?

Accident or not, if someone was shot and killed, the police would try to find out who the killer was.

Now, if there investigation wasn't going anywhere--no clues, no leads, etc., that would be believable, and add another point of conflict to the story.

Shannon said...

At least one subspecies of the orca is already protected under the ESA. So you might want to be careful there. A more current idea for an environmental murder mystery would be the conflict over building oil pipelines. Over the years, there's been a surprising amount of intrigue and questionable behavior on that subject. You might even be able to tie it in with the whales somehow.

BernardL said...

I guess in a place where the police think you can be shot by accident, it would be a good thing to have a name like Lucky. :)

Virginia Miss said...

whale viagra! I admire Miss Snark's ability to be funny in the morning.

Author: although I liked some bits in the first paragraph, my eyes glazed over by the time I got to "diverse groups" and I stopped reading

Make it immediate, tell me what Lucky's struggling with, make me want to find out how she does it

kis said...

Actually, living on Vancouver Island, I know a little about the fight to have SR orcas (a small subgroup with a very low population) designated as their own species--therefore deserving of protection. Because they had always been lumped in with other, larger populations, it was never felt that they were at risk. It took so long to get southern residents treated separately under the law, they now have a very slim chance of recovery and will likely die out in the next decade or two.

I can see how some corporation that's dumping waste or whatever might find it easier to just get rid of this particular subspecies to take the pressure off. Presented in the right way, this story might be good. But here, I dunno, it feels like I'm reading a textbook--and how I feel about textbooks is why I dropped out of university.

shannon said...

Calling her "Lucky" is a bit of a give-away that nothing really bad is going to happen to her! (And, it gives rise to way too many puns.)

cm allison said...

I might switch orcas and killer whales sentence to sentence, rather threw me reading "killing killer".

Ceilisundancer said...

There are those who oppose the designation of species as endangered. The reasons for opposing Killer Whales as an endangered species have little if anything to do with agriculture and (land)development, and much more to do with commercial fishing, indigenous peoples rights, and other water-related activities. I'd highly encourage the author to research marine mammal-related court cases, such as those conducted with NOAA, and current national and international whaling laws. If the author doesn't know what NOAA is, s/he needs to find out:)particularly as this is based on the US coastline. And, for the record, it's Federal Government when written in this way, not lower case. Do this book "right," and it could have audiences.

Rei said...

I enjoyed the first para.
I did not enjoy the second.

For whatever that's worth. :)

HawkOwl said...

Like I said to the other guy, why does it always have to have a murder? Money is so much more interesting than that.

Linda said...

It doesn't make sense. Why would someone fear an "ESA designation"? What bad thing would happen if any animal got it? It wouldn't get hunted by other countries?

And lack of research really shows. The ESA has been around forever, and I honestly would find it hard to believe that a group of any kind would file a lawsuit against it--what are they going to do walk into court and say, "I want to challenge this act because I to kill the animals?" That's not going to go well with anyone in a court of a law.

Anonymous said...

I'm afraid in my case, this hook has one real problem: the word "whale biologist." Because it was used in an episode of Futurama ("Three Hundred Big Ones"), and now whenever I hear the phrase, all I hear is, "I calls 'em like I sees 'em. I'm a whale biologist." I simply couldn't take seriously any book with that phrase in it, silly as that sounds.