Synopses & Reviews
The Cyanide Canary
is the riveting true story of a horrific crime -- of a brave young man left for dead, an unscrupulous business mogul, and the relentless EPA investigator who fought to overcome injustice.
On a crisp summer morning in Soda Springs, Idaho, twenty-year-old Scott Dominguez kissed his fiancée goodbye and went to work for Allan Elias, the owner of Evergreen Resources, an enterprise Dominguez thought was in the business of producing fertilizer from mining waste. A former high school wrestler blessed with Tom Cruise-like good looks, Dominguez seemed to have unlimited potential, but by eleven o'clock that morning he was fighting for his life, pulled unconscious from a cyanide-laced storage tank and not expected to live through the night.
In Seattle, Special Agent Joseph Hilldorfer of the Environmental Protection Agency was given the job of finding out what happened to Dominguez and why. Initially Hilldorfer did not want the case, still frustrated by an intense two-year investigation that concluded with corporate polluters walking out of a federal courthouse free. But as he learned more, Hilldorfer, the son of a Pittsburgh cop with a blue-collar work ethic, was touched by Scott's suffering and outraged at Elias's callous disregard for his employees' well-being.
Hilldorfer and his partner, Special Agent Bob Wojnicz, joined forces with seasoned Boise Assistant U.S. Attorney George Breitsameter and an indefatigable, brilliant young attorney from the Department of Justice's Environmental Crimes Section named David Uhlmann. Together they would uncover the horrifying truths and build the criminal case against Elias.
A former New York whiz kid and Arizona realestate and business mogul, Elias owned businesses that had polluted Idaho with hazardous waste for nearly a decade. Yet Elias never spent a single day in jail, openly boasted of beating the environmental quality regulations, and avoided any significant fines. Would this case be any different?
Hilldorfer, Uhlmann, and the government trial team embarked on an epic courtroom battle that would stretch them to the limits. What began as a struggle for justice for one young man became a fight by the EPA for its very ability to enforce the nation's environmental laws and to bring environmental polluters to justice. In the balance was whether Allan Elias would ever spend a day in jail.
Gripping, powerful, and compulsively readable, The Cyanide Canary is a major achievement in the classic tradition of A Civil Action, a book that unfolds like fiction yet is alarmingly true.
Governor Christie Todd Whitman, former administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency
A vivid reminder of the devastation of environmental crimes, The Cyanide Canary is a testament to the dedication and conviction of the men and women of EPA's environmental crimes unit and the Department of Justice's environmental crimes section. The Cyanide Canary is a real-life story of greed and criminal negligence finally thwarted by professionalism and compassion. This is an important book for anyone concerned about the world around them.
Ann Rule, author of Green River, Running Red
and Heart Full of Lies
An engrossing true account of a horrific crime that affects every one of us, this book is as compelling as any brilliantly written murder mystery. You will pull for the "good guys" and be stunned by the conscienceless avarice of "the poisoner." This is a roller-coaster ride of a book where you won't know if the ending will be just or a travesty of fat cats who despoil and move on, leaving permanently damaged victims behind. Powerful and heartbreaking, it is a must-read for every American who cares about our environment, and especially for those who won't smell a deadly waft of bitter almonds until it is far too late.
Joel Bakan, author of The Corporation
The Cyanide Canary has all the elements of a great thriller. It is a gripping, page-turning drama about a hero's dogged determination to bring a villain to justice, while the brave victim suffers the effects of a horrible crime. But Hilldorfer and Dugoni have given us much more than a good story. The book is a telling indictment of a business culture where everything, even life itself, is sacrificed for the pursuit of profit, and where the regulatory agencies designed to protect us and the natural environment from corporate exploitation have been stripped down to the point of ineffectiveness. But Hilldorfer and Dugoni also offer hope. The Cyanide Canary is a must-read for anybody concerned about corporate crime and irresponsibility.