Critical Praises for Valley at Risk :
“Excellent! 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.”
– 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 lose—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 Meibers, author Falling Off the Wind
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, Ben’s older brother, a hemophiliac and child-prodigy pianist, had died of
AIDS. Unable to identify a cause of Roger’s disease, Ben’s mother blamed herself for not protecting him.
She has carried that guilt for a lifetime. Working closely with the newspaper’s managing editor, Julie unearths Kabot’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 own
Aerial View of Vandalia Valley
There are things in the headlight-pierced night
That should breathe only in nightmares.
Yet, they are real,
Living in the smog's gloom -
Dripping outside my window.
- Melissa Bailey -