'Christmas Eve, 1953. The crater tlake on Mt Ruapehu bursts, unleashing a giant lahar that sweeps down the volcano like a tidal wave, destroying a Tangiwai rail bridge and plunging a passenger train into the river. One hundred and fifty-one people drown and many others are seriously injured.
'Years later, when the vibrant international seismologist Frances Nelson arrives in New Zealand to start monitoring the dangerously active volcano Mt Ruapehu, she is shocked to find herself embroiled in a battle over the mountain that stretches back centuries. Not realising that Frances has ties of her own to the Tangiwai train crash, local scientists seek to gain her support for their schemes, which range from installing an early warning system to bulldozing the entire mountain top.
'Added to that are the Maori locals - and one in particular - who believe that the volcano is sacred and the railway should never have been built across its path. The mountain is heating up and Frances must decide what to do before it is too late.' (Publisher's blurb)