TV sitcom writer Dave Marshall is desperately trying to make a living after his long running show is cancelled. So he thinks he should write what the public seems to want--and action thriller. So he picks the brain of a retired army official for research. One day, however, the guy shows up at their meeting drunk--and spills information that the end of the world has begun. He tells a story of how an oil eating bacteria was developed--and how ann angry scientist released it into the Middle East oil fields. It is spreading across the world, though all governments are trying to keep the problem a secret. Dave believes him, especially after his source is murdered. So he starts buying supplies---food and water, for a worse case scenario. And then it happens.
The story revolves around him, his teenaged daughter and his wife, and how they try to leave Los Angeles. Not only does the city not have power--or water--but the bacteria has caused the La Brea Tar Pits to explode, causing a massive, deadly earthquake which has killed thousands--and is causing fires. The books starts off slow but gets more intense as events escalate.
This is one of the most realistic, plausible end of the world books I've read. It also has a satisfying ending that you really want to happen. Highly recommended. Varley never disappoints.