Doctors and lawyers often get their time in the spotlight when it comes to popular entertainment, but engineers can get the cold shoulder, often stereotyped as geeks or marginalized as dangerous technologists.
The thriller The Jackhammer Elegies tries to change all that by starring a savvy and engaging professional engineer as the main character and hero. The novel recently won a 2013 SET Award from the Entertainment Industries Council, which honors film, television and other genres “for accurate and impactful entertainment portraying and promoting the fields of science, engineering, technology and math.” Additional winners for 2013 included the TV shows and movies The Big Bang Theory, NCIS, Iron Man 3, and Star Trek into Darkness, among others.
Reader reviews on Amazon have called the book riveting, “more than just another thriller…a thought provoking and exciting novel,” and “a best seller…comparable to books by John Grisham.” Said one reviewer, “I have been a fan of Clancy and Ludlum for quite a while. [The] Jackhammer Elegies had the plot twists and exciting elements of those authors while adding an engineering element that felt authentic.”
In his acceptance remarks at the SET Awards ceremony on November 13, 2013, in Los Angeles, author Stefan Jaeger noted that one model for his thriller was indeed the work of John Grisham, who gives insights into the legal profession while keeping readers engaged in an exciting human drama. Jaeger hoped to do the same for engineering while also providing a popular entertainment spotlight for what engineers bring to society and a positive role model for those considering an engineering career.
Jaeger told the awards ceremony audience that he had been motivated to write the book by the constant call from engineers over the years that there should be a television show LA Engineer—a take-off on the popular TV show LA Law from the late 80s and early 90s—so that engineers can showcase their own profession for the next generation of professionals.
The story starts with a bang. Scott Carter, a civil/structural engineer, finds himself in an elevator at the top of one of his own high-rise building designs when a powerful blast in the basement rocks Carter from his every-day life into the media limelight—and ultimately into the crosshairs of a technically cunning terrorist. Carter’s knowledge of the building’s structural framework helps him alert the city about potential collapse, but that turns him into the conduit of threats from the mastermind of the attack, alias Jackhammer. Carter becomes a consultant to the FBI as it investigates the engineering angles to the case, teaming up with Special Agent Michelle Taylor, whose striking presence pulls Carter into the complications of a growing love and doubts about his personal future. The partners soon find themselves matching wits with an elusive mastermind targeting the lifelines of a city’s public works.
Jaeger gained his background for the book from both a hard science degree and by serving 28 years on the staff of major engineering associations, currently with the American Society of Civil Engineers in Reston, Virginia. Jaeger used that background to weave such themes as engineering licensure, private practice firms, and Engineers Week, into the story, making them a natural part of the protagonist’s character and life experiences.
The Jackhammer Elegies is available in paperback and Kindle from Amazon.com and as a NOOK book from BN.com. You can learn more at www.TheJackhammerElegies.com. The author can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.