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Mountains – Reason 6

Here are my TOP TEN REASONS for writing The Mountains Bow Down.

#6: The Sheer Challenge

Mountains Bow Down

With every book, Raleigh Harmon raises the bar on me. For Mountains, she wanted to try solving crimes through geology, even though she’s stuck on water.

“You’re on,” I said.

Not only do normal people not converse with imaginary friends, I also learned that geology positively riddles building products. Gypsum minerals in wallboard. Limestone in tile grout. Marble floors, silica in glass windows, granite countertops —-the geology is everywhere.

Even on cruise ships.

So throughout The Mountains Bow Down, the redoubtable Raleigh exploits all her knowledge of land and solves several crimes committed entirely on water.


My research benefitted immensely from a wonderful textbook, Forensic Geology. Written by Ray Murray and John C.F. Tedrow, Forensic Geology is the bible of its field. I’ve been reading it since the Raleigh Harmon series began, and even absconded with Tedrow’s last name in The Stones Cry Out, pinning it to a minor character. Which reader can find that character now…?

Forensic Geology contains a particularly good section on earth-based products used to insulate safes. No spoilers, but here’s an excerpt from The Mountains Bow Down where Raleigh Harmon uses her geology expertise to solve a crime committed on the high seas:

The powder-coated safe was roughly the size of a microwave. The stainless steel door was secured to a titanium baseplate, and I ran my eyes over the knob, searching for nicks in the striated surface. But there were no obvious signs of forced entry.

Bending at the waist, I stared at the baseplate from below. A fine-grained dust stuck to a tiny circle, no more than one-sixteenth of an inch, at the bottom of the baseplate. My fingers twitched, tempted to tap the ashen circle… Whoever cracked the safe had done an excellent job cleaning up. But any high-speed drill spiraling into a safe had to tunnel through fireproof layers, flinging a dust into the air so fine it could remain suspended for hours, even days…

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