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Oil and Water

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When inventor Martin Tirabi builds a machine that converts trash into oil it sends shockwaves through the corporate halls of the oil cognoscenti. Weeks later, Marty and his wife, Ruth are killed in a mysterious car accident. Their son, Gil, a 10-year old physics prodigy is the only one capable of finishing the machine that could solve the world’s energy problems.  Plagued When inventor Martin Tirabi builds a machine that converts trash into oil it sends shockwaves through the corporate halls of the oil cognoscenti. Weeks later, Marty and his wife, Ruth are killed in a mysterious car accident. Their son, Gil, a 10-year old physics prodigy is the only one capable of finishing the machine that could solve the world’s energy problems.  Plagued with epilepsy from birth, Gil is also psychic, and through dreams and the occasional missive from his dead father he gets the push he needs to finish the job. Meanwhile, Bicky Coleman, head of Akanabi Oil is doing his best to smear the planet in it. From a slow leak in the Gulf of Mexico to the most devastating oil spill the Delaware River has ever seen, Akanabi’s corporate practices are leaving oily imprints in their wake. To divert the tide of bad press, Bicky dispatches his son-in-law and Chief Engineer, David Hartos to clean up his mess.  A disillusioned Hart, reeling from the recent death of his wife and unborn child, travels to Philadelphia to fulfill his father-in-law’s wishes. There’s no such thing as coincidence when Hart meets Gil and agrees to help him finish Marty’s dream machine. But how will he bring such a revolutionary invention to market in a world reliant on fossil fuels and awash in corporate greed?  To do so, Hart must confront those who would quash the project, including his own father-in-law.   You’ll find murder, mystery, and humor as black as fine Arabian crude filling the pages of Oil and Water. The characters are fictional, but the technology is real. What will we do when the oil runs out?   Open up and see.


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When inventor Martin Tirabi builds a machine that converts trash into oil it sends shockwaves through the corporate halls of the oil cognoscenti. Weeks later, Marty and his wife, Ruth are killed in a mysterious car accident. Their son, Gil, a 10-year old physics prodigy is the only one capable of finishing the machine that could solve the world’s energy problems.  Plagued When inventor Martin Tirabi builds a machine that converts trash into oil it sends shockwaves through the corporate halls of the oil cognoscenti. Weeks later, Marty and his wife, Ruth are killed in a mysterious car accident. Their son, Gil, a 10-year old physics prodigy is the only one capable of finishing the machine that could solve the world’s energy problems.  Plagued with epilepsy from birth, Gil is also psychic, and through dreams and the occasional missive from his dead father he gets the push he needs to finish the job. Meanwhile, Bicky Coleman, head of Akanabi Oil is doing his best to smear the planet in it. From a slow leak in the Gulf of Mexico to the most devastating oil spill the Delaware River has ever seen, Akanabi’s corporate practices are leaving oily imprints in their wake. To divert the tide of bad press, Bicky dispatches his son-in-law and Chief Engineer, David Hartos to clean up his mess.  A disillusioned Hart, reeling from the recent death of his wife and unborn child, travels to Philadelphia to fulfill his father-in-law’s wishes. There’s no such thing as coincidence when Hart meets Gil and agrees to help him finish Marty’s dream machine. But how will he bring such a revolutionary invention to market in a world reliant on fossil fuels and awash in corporate greed?  To do so, Hart must confront those who would quash the project, including his own father-in-law.   You’ll find murder, mystery, and humor as black as fine Arabian crude filling the pages of Oil and Water. The characters are fictional, but the technology is real. What will we do when the oil runs out?   Open up and see.

49 review for Oil and Water

  1. 4 out of 5

    Vicki

    This book was not quite what I expected from a book about Oil and water. There was intrigue and unusual practices that may or may not be real. the way the story was told, I am not sure at this point what technology is really available. There is a much-needed discussion on the environment and the effects of our actions with the earth's resources. This was an interesting read. It began a little slow for me, I had to feel my way into a comfort with the story and the characters. It was a book that I This book was not quite what I expected from a book about Oil and water. There was intrigue and unusual practices that may or may not be real. the way the story was told, I am not sure at this point what technology is really available. There is a much-needed discussion on the environment and the effects of our actions with the earth's resources. This was an interesting read. It began a little slow for me, I had to feel my way into a comfort with the story and the characters. It was a book that I got a message from and throughout there was humor to take some of the bite from the message. Interesting book. I am glad I read it.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Babus Ahmed

    The Tirabi's lose their parents in a car crash and strange break-ins start the same night. Could it be linked to their father's invention of a device that converts carbon-based trash into oil? Hart loses his wife and unborn child one evening shortly after she reads a report that she was told was dangerous, his oil baron father-in-law advises him to throw himself into his work as a chemical engineer maintaining the equipment for his company, Akanabi Oil. However, it feels as if the company would The Tirabi's lose their parents in a car crash and strange break-ins start the same night. Could it be linked to their father's invention of a device that converts carbon-based trash into oil? Hart loses his wife and unborn child one evening shortly after she reads a report that she was told was dangerous, his oil baron father-in-law advises him to throw himself into his work as a chemical engineer maintaining the equipment for his company, Akanabi Oil. However, it feels as if the company would do anything to maintain the fossil fuel hierarchy despite the impact it is having on the environment, can the Tirabi's and Hart win against a monster industry? I really loved the characters in this environmental thriller, which had a touch of the supernatural thrown in to make it unique. The suspense and intrigue got me hooked early on and I found myself unable to put this down. The story is dynamic and the action heart-stopping. A unique read in this genre that I heartily recommend.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jan

    In Oil & Water, two worlds collide when a suspicious death leaves unfinished business between a ten-year-old and a big oil company. From scene to gripping scene, P. J. Lazos packs this environmental thriller with intrigue, suspense, and well-fueled imagination. In Oil & Water, two worlds collide when a suspicious death leaves unfinished business between a ten-year-old and a big oil company. From scene to gripping scene, P. J. Lazos packs this environmental thriller with intrigue, suspense, and well-fueled imagination.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Donna Walker

    I really liked this book. It's an endearing tale of the Tirabi brothers and their sister who bravely face down evil forces out to steal what's theirs. The siblings are intelligent and resourceful. Circumstances bring them into the world of Akanabi Oil, a powerful company that makes its own rules. The Tirabi's motives are pure; Akanabi's are greedy. Then they collide.

  5. 5 out of 5

    E.L. Lindley

    Oil and Water by P.J. Lazos is an expansive, well written novel which follows the fate of two families. The families couldn’t be more different but Lazos draws us into their separate worlds before bringing them together in a spectacular denouement. The novel is written in three parts and the first part introduces us to the Tirabi family and the Coleman/Hartos family, both of whom suffer unspeakable tragedies that shatter all of their lives. Lazos’ skill as a writer is very much in evidence as she Oil and Water by P.J. Lazos is an expansive, well written novel which follows the fate of two families. The families couldn’t be more different but Lazos draws us into their separate worlds before bringing them together in a spectacular denouement. The novel is written in three parts and the first part introduces us to the Tirabi family and the Coleman/Hartos family, both of whom suffer unspeakable tragedies that shatter all of their lives. Lazos’ skill as a writer is very much in evidence as she builds up suspense and danger whilst at the same time getting the reader to really care about her characters and also highlighting the perils of not caring for the environment. The Tirabi family are the obvious choice for winning the readers’ hearts. Patriarch, Marty, invents a machine called the TDU which can turn any carbon based object into oil. This machine will clearly revolutionise the oil industry but Marty and his political strategist wife, Ruth, are murdered before he can complete the project. This leaves their four children adrift and it’s their plight and relationships that, to me, is the heart of the novel. My favourite character is Kori, Marty and Ruth’s flaky, twenty something daughter, who is suddenly thrust into the role of provider and mother figure to her younger siblings – especially Gil, the youngest who’s only eight years old. Her feelings of oppressive responsibility lead her into making wrong choices which Lazos presents in a way that’s both realistic and moving. Running parallel to the Tirabi children, Lazos also invites us into the lives of Bicky Coleman, the CEO of Akanabi Oil and his grieving, chemical engineer son-in-law, David ‘Hart’ Hartos. Bicky is a ruthless business man whose orbit Hart has become embroiled in through his marriage to Bicky’s daughter. From the onset, Bicky is surrounded by intrigue and corruption and the ripples of his dissatisfaction and misery damn everyone he comes into contact with. In part two of the novel the Akanabi Oil Company is responsible for an oil spill and Lazos uses Hart to demonstrate the repercussions of this on the environment. He is sent by Bicky to help clean up the damage and working alongside the Wildlife Rescue Centre he comes face to face with the horrific damage that oil causes to birds and other wildlife. Lazos also depicts how big business and the government are in league with each other so that the importance of safety and environmental issues are overlooked in favour of profit. Additionally Lazos uses part two of her novel to show the impact the oil industry has had on the Middle East. Robbie Tirabi, the second eldest of the Tirabi children, enlists into the military and is sent to Iraq. He soon realises that the unrest in that region has been caused by the way so many people such as the “marsh Arabs” have been displaced to make way for the oil industry. Whilst Robbie is in Iraq, the remaining Tirabis give an interview to the Philadelphia Inquirer and news of the TDU spreads. As Hart becomes more and more disillusioned with the oil business he feels compelled to find the family and discovers a kindred spirit in Gil, a gifted child who has the ability to finish off what his father began. The Tirabis come to represent the sense of family that Hart has been missing but their work on the TDU stirs up terrible danger. Lazos’ novel is an interesting combination of factual and spiritual. The reality of the impact that unbridled capitalism and human greed can have on the world is offset by the way the Tirabi children are visited by the spirits of their dead parents who guide them to make the right choices. Gil in particular has the ability to see into the future and connect with the spirit world. I really enjoyed Oil and Water, as it’s both engaging and thought provoking. It’s not an easy read but if you’re looking for something more substantial than a conventional pot boiler then it’s well worth the effort.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Brian Greiner

    There is a fascinating genre of fiction whose basis is a world-changing invention that is brought to public attention through the efforts of a plucky lone inventor against the machinations of Established Interests. This affords authors a very broad palette with which to work. The least of these sorts of stories are mere conspiracy theory silliness. The better ones place the characters upon a larger canvas to make interesting and useful observations about society. “Oil and Water” falls into the l There is a fascinating genre of fiction whose basis is a world-changing invention that is brought to public attention through the efforts of a plucky lone inventor against the machinations of Established Interests. This affords authors a very broad palette with which to work. The least of these sorts of stories are mere conspiracy theory silliness. The better ones place the characters upon a larger canvas to make interesting and useful observations about society. “Oil and Water” falls into the latter group. In these sorts of stories it is best to not pay much attention to the wonderful magic doo-hickey—all that is required is that it be sort-of feasible. The important point is that it be a societal game-changer in some way, challenging a well-established powerful group. “Oil and Water” uses the invention of a machine that converts trash into oil, cheaply and efficiently, as the basis for its game-changing technology. The strongest parts of “Oil and Water” are the characterizations and the well-paced flow of the narrative. The characters are nicely formed, engaging, and actually grow and change through the course of the novel. There are some point-of-view jumps that are a bit disconcerting at first, but the author managed to keep my interest until it all became clear to me. There are some thoughtful discussions about what this sort of technology might mean to society—and not just the obvious changes. Having said that, there are a few rough edges, at least to me. Others may find them endearing. The eco-issue infodumps are interesting, but sometimes verge on becoming too preachy. One of the protagonists is a genius-child who has a mystical link to wisdom, a plot device that I’m not fond of. Along similar lines, there is the occasional overemphasis on the mystical—also something I’m not fond of. All in all, this is a well-written piece of work that makes for an entertaining and informative read. Why 4 stars instead of 5? To me, 3 stars indicates something worth reading, 4 stars indicates that a book that has something special going for it in addition to being a good read, and 5 stars is reserved for books with a richness and depth that totally blow me away (eg. "Dune" or "Lord of the Rings"). DISCLAIMER : I received a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review as part of Mystery Thriller Week.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Ken Dowell

    What’s an environmental thriller? Climate change armageddon? Or maybe something along the lines of a serious version of Little Shop of Horrors? P.J. Lazos’ Oil and Water, an environmental thriller, is about big oil. If you’re not a fan of big oil, this book will only give more fuel for the fire. Think arrogant guys smoking cigars with their feet on their desks pooh-poohing the latest ecological disaster their corporation is responsible for. There are oil spills and oil leaks, but that’s only the What’s an environmental thriller? Climate change armageddon? Or maybe something along the lines of a serious version of Little Shop of Horrors? P.J. Lazos’ Oil and Water, an environmental thriller, is about big oil. If you’re not a fan of big oil, this book will only give more fuel for the fire. Think arrogant guys smoking cigars with their feet on their desks pooh-poohing the latest ecological disaster their corporation is responsible for. There are oil spills and oil leaks, but that’s only the beginning of the environmental issues Oil and Water raises. Even Saddam Hussein makes a cameo in this story as an enemy of Mother Nature. The novel begins with seemingly random death and destruction. Four hundred and some odd pages later it is all tied together. That’s the thriller element. I was super impressed with the author’s knowledge of oil rigs, underwater operations, spills, cleanups and rescues. It enables her to describe scenes like the near-fatal underwater leak repair in the Gulf in detail that you would think could only be provided by the divers themselves. She even seems to nail the male banter between the divers and their above ground support. I was even more impressed with her ability to build suspense in the way she relates this and other tales. Little thrillers within the larger story. It is one of the things that makes this long novel a quick and engaging read. Much of the story takes place in a household run by and for teenagers, give or take a couple years on either end. (Their parents died in the aforementioned death and destruction.) That in itself makes for an interesting tale. After reading Oil and Water, you can’t help but long for the day when we might be able to leave what’s left of our fossil fuels in the ground. If only there was a real family of teens and pre-teens who could build a machine to convert trash to fuel at scale. There is a sea of self-published authors these days. Many are skilled writers and storytellers. I wish I read more of them, but it’s hard to find the good ones amidst the amateurish and the flamingly self-absorbed. This is one of the good ones.

  8. 5 out of 5

    DJ

    Pam Lazos takes you on a wild ride through both fact and fiction, leading your mind to places it has probably never explored. Oil and Water is a unique combination of fairy tale and non-fiction that both educates you and entertains you, touching your mind as well as your heart. Her characters are complex, yet possess recognizable traits that connect us with our humanity. You will be drawn to Gil’s genius as well as his social awkwardness and will find yourself rooting for his eventual success. T Pam Lazos takes you on a wild ride through both fact and fiction, leading your mind to places it has probably never explored. Oil and Water is a unique combination of fairy tale and non-fiction that both educates you and entertains you, touching your mind as well as your heart. Her characters are complex, yet possess recognizable traits that connect us with our humanity. You will be drawn to Gil’s genius as well as his social awkwardness and will find yourself rooting for his eventual success. The Tirabi family faces a daunting task – carrying on as orphans having lost their parents in a tragic manner. How they choose to carry on with their father’s work is at once both fascinating and endearing. The questions posed by this book are not to be ignored – Pam Lazos has you thinking about the world in which we live, and contemplating “what ifs” that might take us to a whole new place. She lifts your soul, warms your heart and teaches you, all at the same time. What more can one ask for?

  9. 5 out of 5

    Douglas Thompson

    I really enjoyed Oil and Water. Right from the start Lazos brought her characters to life, making them both believable and interesting. She also inserted lots of facts throughout her novel about the environment, and about the current strife in the middle East. I especially enjoyed reading about how water fowl are cleaned and returned to the environment after an oil spill. I had no idea how resource abundant the process is. And finally, I enjoyed the plot. I could see what I assumed was some of L I really enjoyed Oil and Water. Right from the start Lazos brought her characters to life, making them both believable and interesting. She also inserted lots of facts throughout her novel about the environment, and about the current strife in the middle East. I especially enjoyed reading about how water fowl are cleaned and returned to the environment after an oil spill. I had no idea how resource abundant the process is. And finally, I enjoyed the plot. I could see what I assumed was some of Lazos' own spirituality written between the lines.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Jodi

    A page-turner that switches between different plot lines, Oil and Water touches on relevant, well-researched environmental issues while also keeping you on your toes with intrigue and expert storytelling!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Karen

    Oil and Water has a little bit of everything: big ideas, well-drawn characters, complex family relationships, heroism, plot twists, mystery, comedy, and tragedy. It is the author's debut novel after her publication of Six Sisters, a collection of novellas. A more ambitious and mature work than Six Sisters, this novel shows the author stretching her wings, taking audacious risks and giving voice to her passions. It is the kind of book that will stay with the reader for years afterwards, and which Oil and Water has a little bit of everything: big ideas, well-drawn characters, complex family relationships, heroism, plot twists, mystery, comedy, and tragedy. It is the author's debut novel after her publication of Six Sisters, a collection of novellas. A more ambitious and mature work than Six Sisters, this novel shows the author stretching her wings, taking audacious risks and giving voice to her passions. It is the kind of book that will stay with the reader for years afterwards, and which will likely only improve with re-reading. I think most readers will learn something new from reading this book, whether it is about single-hulled oil tankers, epilepsy, political activism, or wildlife rescue. The research is extensive and serves the story well, and the characters are complex and appealing. The descriptions of the characters' deaths could be breathtaking in their quiet horror, or in their spectacular flaming out. And I very much enjoyed very much the day-to-day interactions between the Tirabi kids for their own sakes. Though they were portrayed as genius eccentrics, they also came across as a realistically flawed family, barely holding it together after their parents’ car crash. I am also very interested in green technologies, so I was intrigued by, but also skeptical of, the idea for the Thermo-Depolymerization Unit, the invention of father Marty Tirabi that converts trash into oil. A few quick google searches confirmed my suspicions, that this process is indeed possible but energy intensive, and the road to its commercialization is rocky. An MIT Technology Review article from 2003, Garbage into Oil mentions a pilot plant in Philadelphia, among others, any or all of which could have inspired the author's research. A biomass company based on thermal depolymerization, Changing World Technologies, went bankrupt in 2009 and closed its MO-based refinery. I mention these real-world examples not to quibble but to applaud the author for making what might have otherwise been a boring footnote in the back of the business pages into an interesting story. At times my personal sensibilities found the narrative to be a little too sprawling and messy: too many characters, extra subplots, and prose darlings were left alive while the body count mounted. For example, I still don’t know what the purpose was of the chapter in which Hart saves Stu’s life. It was well written and exciting, with vivid detail and fast pacing, but Stu is not an important character to the plot and we never see him again. I also found the subplot involving Robbie in Iraq to be a bit disconnected from and tacked on to the main story. And in the climactic scene near the end of the book in which many loose ends are tied up, I found myself thinking that the villain should really have read and taken to heart the evil overlord list, (particularly #7), because he just keeps talking, shooting people, and missing, until . . . YOW. In a recent “Brain Pickings” column, Maria Popova quotes the great SF master Ursula LeGuin, saying that the best storytelling offers "an imagined but persuasive alternative reality, to dislodge my mind, and so the reader’s mind, from the lazy, timorous habit of thinking that the way we live now is the only way people can live. It is that inertia that allows the institutions of injustice to continue unquestioned." PJ Lazos writes in that honorable tradition of speculative fiction here, powerfully using her own imagination to expand the scope of the possible. There is easily enough material here for more than one novel. I hope there’s a sequel.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Donna

    Mislead by the title, this book was a complete surprise. I expected something about the environment centering on how oil and water do not mix. In reality, this is a wonderful tale about an invention, a mysterious murder, corporate greed, and mayhem with a healthy dose of environmental concern mixed in. The author clearly completed much research to write with authenticity about complex issues. I was unable to put the book down, and it is worthy of your time to read.

  13. 4 out of 5

    T.J. Green

    Review to follow

  14. 4 out of 5

    Ann Delaney

  15. 5 out of 5

    P.J. Lazos

  16. 4 out of 5

    Heidi Butler

    Great book!

  17. 5 out of 5

    R.Q. Woodward

  18. 4 out of 5

    Joel

  19. 5 out of 5

    Neil Gussman

  20. 4 out of 5

    Kathleen

  21. 4 out of 5

    Deb

  22. 4 out of 5

    P.J. Lazos

  23. 4 out of 5

    Scott

  24. 5 out of 5

    Randy

  25. 5 out of 5

    marilyn walters

  26. 4 out of 5

    Nancy Jones

  27. 5 out of 5

    Frederick Rotzien

  28. 5 out of 5

    Nicola Fantom

  29. 4 out of 5

    Micielle

  30. 4 out of 5

    Ms. Reader

  31. 5 out of 5

    Betty

  32. 5 out of 5

    SALLY WHITE

  33. 4 out of 5

    Ann Ellis

  34. 5 out of 5

    Claire

  35. 5 out of 5

    Susan

  36. 4 out of 5

    Anita

  37. 4 out of 5

    Karen Holding

  38. 5 out of 5

    Cheryl Bradley

  39. 4 out of 5

    Stella Clarkson

  40. 5 out of 5

    Tracey Mottram

  41. 4 out of 5

    andrea

  42. 5 out of 5

    Mary A.

  43. 5 out of 5

    Stacia Chappell

  44. 5 out of 5

    Pam

  45. 5 out of 5

    Joanne

  46. 5 out of 5

    Samantha Gunning

  47. 5 out of 5

    Diana Larock

  48. 4 out of 5

    Dawn Obrien

  49. 5 out of 5

    Susan Krich

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