EarthCore, by Scott Sigler
Scott Sigler has created a tense and compelling blend of horror and sci -i centered around a mysterious legendary mine hidden in the mountains of Utah. An aged prospector named Sonny McGuiness, who finds sites for companies that can afford modern mining, makes his way to the site and discovers platinum dust in a spring coming out of the desert. After having the mineral assayed he learns that it’s almost pure.
The find comes to the attention of Connell Kirkland, who manages a large mining company called EarthCore. He forces a partnership with the prospector and begins a project to mine for what appears to be a solid mass of platinum nearly three miles down. But McGuiness knows, and Kirkland will learn, that there’s something wrong with the site. Is it something evil or something even stranger?
The book collects an interesting group of characters including a psychotic former NSA agent who gets a sexual thrill when she can torture information out of people, a self-centered scientist who can create the equipment needed for deep mining, a former secret operative who left his agency after a disfiguring injury and was adrift and nearly homeless until being hired by Kirkland, and a dozen other minor characters.
Kirkland’s team has to work in secret or risk losing their claim which will go to the first company able to extract material out of the site. As they begin their operation they find that something or someone has already been down in the depths of a deep cavern, so close to the earth’s mantle that just touching rocks can burn the skin and bake a living being.
The book is fun to read and very tense in some sections. What they do discover in the mine is interesting but also a little over the top. Okay, not a little. It’s very over the top. In the final chapters there’s a concluding event that only a few survive. How they survive seems pretty unrealistic though saying much more would be a general spoiler. The inventiveness of the book and the variety of the characters made the reading pleasant, but as the inventiveness gets amped up I think many readers will reach a point where they can’t keep thinking “Okay, I’ll go along with that” and start thinking “No way that could possibly happen”. But I’ve been taken for worse rides by authors and the ending of this book, while extreme, is pretty painless.