'Vulcanologist Frances Nelson is in Italy to work with an international team assessing the world′s most dangerous volcano, Mt Vesuvius, responsible for the destruction of ancient Pompeii.
'Instead of the straightforward scientific task she expects, she finds herself in the midst of political scandal and a web of nepotism on the literally murderous streets of Naples as greed, organized crime, and Il Sistema (the system) fill those same streets with violence and pollute the countryside with toxic waste. To her horror, she realises her work is being compromised and her team's findings suppressed by her superiors.
A vivid and compelling story unfolds, drenched with flavours of Italy and the spice of dangerous passions. In flashback, the tragic events of a fatal explosion on White Island, in the Bay of Plenty provide a dramatic emotional counterpoint to the events Frances is dealing with in Italy, adding a poignance to her budding relationship with a colleague, and providing a romatic twist to this fast-paced contemporary novel.' (From the publisher's website.)
In form and shape the column of smoke was like a tremendous pine tree, for at the top of its great height it branched out into several skeins. I assume that a sudden burst of wind had carried it upwards and then dropped it, leaving it motionless, and that its own weight then spread it outwards. It was sometimes white, sometimes heavy and mottled, as it would be if it had lifted up amounts of earth and ashes.
Pliny the Younger, 79 AD
Pliny the Younger is hailed as the world's first vulcanologist. The roman poet and scholar was just seventeen when Mt Vesuvius erupted spectacularly in 79 AD, destroying the cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum.
His harrowing and descriptive eyewitness accounts of the three days of devastation, observed from his home in Misenum, across the Bay of Naples from the volcano, are still referred to by scientists today.
His uncle, Pliny the Elder, was the commander of the Imperial Roman Fleet. He perished in t he aftermath of one of the eruptions when he sailed away from his home and nephew, across to the settlement of Stabiae to rescue friends in peril.
Although Pliny's Warning is a novel, many of the events it describes in the past happened. The contemporary story contains detailed scientific data based on the latest research undertaken by vulcanologists and archaeologists working in southern Italy.
It is true that Vesuvius remains the world's most dangerous volcano. The threat of an eruption greater than the one that destroyed Pompeii remains very real. Millions of people live around it and would be trapped because of the proliferation of illegal development and congested roads.
It is also true that the people of Naples continue to deal with another threat - the corrupt forces of the Camorra, which controls much of that grand old city's finances.