EarthCore is an action/adventure/science fiction novel by Scott Sigler. It tells the tale of the EarthCore mining corporation's final doomed venture. It all begins with Sonny McGuiness, a prospector with an eye for historical documents and the geological secrets they conceal, discovering an amazingly high concentration of platinum and iridium in a creepy patch of Utah dessert. His contact in the geological sciences sells this discovery to the EarthCore corporation and Sunny finds himself blackmailed into a rather generous contractor position by EarthCore's stone cold operating executive, Connell Kirkland. What follows is a whirl wind of activity as EarthCore dumps all of its resources into this dig site hoping to take the global platinum market by storm. But the dig site is a place of mystery, with a conspicuous lack of wild life, weird ruins of unclear origin, and haunting tales a madness and demons in the historical record all pointing to a horrible secret.
EARTHCORE is fun, fast paced story with a lot more plot threads than the above synopsis indicates. The number of characters and agendas is about as big as it can get without getting unwieldy but they all get paidd off by the end of the story. The characterization left me thinking that there were one unambiguously good and two unambiguously bad characters in the whole work with the rest of cast being various shades of self-interested and neurotic. I like moral ambiguity in my characters so this was a plus for me but it's likely to turn some folks off. The plot itself starts as a mystery that morphs into a kind of survival horror adventure. It's fairly long at forty four big chapters.
This book was originally published as an early ebook in 2001 but following the 9/11 economic slump its hopes of seeing print dwindled. Sigler decided to self publish it as a podcast in 2005 and it quickly took off. It has since been edited into a second edition and rerecorded as a new audio book which you can listen to here. Scott Sigler has described his writing as in the vein of Michael Crichton. I would strongly agree with this self assessment but would add that Sigler's writes better characters than could be found in the one Crichton book I've read. Spoiler content warnings in this link.
IRON NODER: WE'LL RUST WHEN WE'RE DEAD