Review: Hurricane Fever

Hurricane FeverBy Tobis S. Buckell

Del Rey, out now

Prudence “Roo” Jones is out of the spy game, but when a former colleague and friend sends a message, he’s dragged back in – and discovers a plot with potentially devastating consequences…

Although there are a few references back to Buckell’s earlier technothriller Arctic Rising, this is pretty much a standalone book, as former Caribbean Intelligence Group operative Roo gradually becomes embroiled in events, despite his best efforts to steer clear. Buckell draws the reader in in much the same way, creating an impression of life on the Caribbean islands during hurricane season – a very different version of normality to that which most of his readers will be used – before slowly turning up the dial on the thriller elements.

Hurricane Fever is set a few years in the future, and Buckell has a gift for deftly introducing the changes in the world between now and then in such a way that it doesn’t feel as if you’re being lectured. There are numerous devices that Roo uses both in his normal everyday life and as an agent which are extrapolated from current technology, but Buckell doesn’t draw attention to them by having Roo contemplate their derivation – they’re commonplace to him, and are treated as such.

A few years back, thriller writer Simon Gandolfi created an ongoing series of books spun off from a plot idea by Alistair MacLean, which centred around a character called Trent, who shares some attributes with Roo. Buckell’s novel could easily be a continuation of that series and like Gandolfi, the author’s knowledge of the sea comes across clearly. The second half of the book may veer into 007 territory – there are times it does seem as if Roo has Bond’s ability to survive any situation, no matter what the odds – but it never descends into shlock, and the near-future setting helps to sell the villain’s slightly outlandish plot (worryingly, the author’s note at the ends suggests that it’s not as outlandish as you might want to think).

A few weeks back I had the pleasure of chatting with Caribbean author Karen Lord, and we discussed some of the differences in science fiction written by people from that community. There’s a different feel to this from many of the SF thrillers that populate the bookshelves – and it’s well worth seeking out.

Verdict: A solidly entertaining SF thriller with some different perspectives. 8/10

Paul Simpson

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