Prudence ‘Roo’ Jones used to be a spy for Caribbean intelligence services but now he is retired, focused on raising his teenage nephew Delroy, whose parents were both killed in a hurricane. Another such storm, one of many, is about to hit the islands but, as Roo and Declan batten down the hatches of their boat, prepared to ride out the onslaught in the mangroves, Roo receives a phone message from one of his old brothers in arms, Zee. But the message is a failsafe, only to be heard if Zee is dead. Zee’s voice asks for help, for his murder to be avenged, a request that Roo could never refuse especially when it is backed up by the arrival on the island of Kit, Zee’s sister, who is after vengeance of her own. But Roo knew Zee very well – and he was not a man with a sister.
Set in the near future, at a time when the environment has taken some punishment, submerging islands, producing a conveyor belt of hurricanes, mankind has also been given a genetic boost. Devastating injuries are now quick to heal, moods easier to calm, but with this technology comes a threat that is every bit as deadly as the storms that batter the Atlantic and Gulf shores. As the very wealthy gather for a Hurricane Party, safe in the knowledge that they can escape at the last minute, Roo and Kit have a conspiracy to fight, one that killed Zee and could very well kill almost everyone on the planet if not stopped in time.
Hurricane Fever is a fast and furious thriller. It’s not long at all before the pace and tension builds and then it doesn’t let up for a moment until the book is done. I am a big fan of technothrillers, especially when they throw environmental disasters and genetic threat into the mix (Michael Crichton could do no wrong in my eyes), and Hurricane Fever delivered just what I hoped. The hero Roo is an interesting, likeable man and enough time is spent on him to make the reader genuinely care about him and want to know more. He’s not your typical James Bond figure – he’s dreadlocked, Caribbean and a boatman – but he’s all the more exciting and unpredictable for that. Kit is also intriguing, not least because for much of the book we’re trying to work out who she is, every bit as much as Roo is.
As you’d hope with a thriller such as this, the baddies are particularly nasty and their plan is suitably ambitious. There’s little doubt that good will win in the end but there are a fair few shocks along the way, including one that really did make me stop and start.
My one complaint is that Hurricane Fever is a little short at well under 300 pages. But this does mean that the thriller is well-focused and little time is wasted. It is also very well written. I read it in a day and the book was great company. It would make for perfect holiday reading (perhaps less so for a Caribbean cruise). This isn’t the first of Buckell’s novels to feature Roo – Arctic Rising is also available. I snapped it up straight away, although I sense that by comparison with Hurricane Fever, this one could prove a little chilly…