In this second sequel to Stephanie's Stepside, the first book by Lonnie Mair, Episode Three, Hope from Toxic Ground, continues Mair’s seamless blending of eco-thriller, love story, murder mystery, and Central California travelogue. In this episode Mair’s graduate student protagonist, turned California governor supported, eco-scientist researcher, Stephanie Carson, is back in the poisoned fields of the western San Joaquin Valley, with government support by a research team continuing her research, in the effort to restore to productivity the huge, once fertile semi-arid lakebed of the ancient Tulare Lake region of California, known as the Central Valley. Accompanying her, is Stephanie’s restored, customized and beloved, classic Chevrolet Stepside pickup. Again, serving as companion, portable laboratory, library, and goodwill emissary, not to mention transportation, to and from the fields. In this follow up, Mair demonstrates the importance of close political ties to high office in Sacramento in order to impact change in those California fields. Hope from Toxic Ground highlights the military arm that the California governor can exercise to effect change, as well as the restraints that are placed on the implementation of that force.
In this episode, Stephanie takes the evidence of deliberate toxic poisoning that she and her team have amassed, to the World Court in the Netherlands to get monetary recompense for the reclamation of the Central Valley. Supporting her efforts are Ethan, her husband, his ranch hands and the research team she was awarded by the California University at Davis and new-found friend, the California Governor, and the governor’s National Guard Military Police commander, Leigh Hunnicutt.