The Return of Payne Harrison

By Joe Moore

Back in the 1980s, I was a huge fan of techno-thrillers. I loved Tom Clancy, Larry Bond, Dale Brown, Stephen Coonts and others, many of whom are still around and made the transition out of the Cold War into today’s military oriented thrillers. In 1989, a friend recommended STORMING INTREPID, and I quickly payne-harrison became a fan of a new writer by the name of Payne Harrison. Now we’ve all heard the cliché about a book being so good that you can’t put it down. That was the truth with STORMING INTREPID, the story of the U.S. using the space shuttle to deploy the Star Wars defense system and  how the Soviets manage to hijack the space craft. It was an intricate plot with a great deal of in-depth info on the technical side of things. Outrageous and totally fun.

Harrison landed on the New York Times bestseller list and followed up INTREPID with THUNDER OF EREBUS, a military thriller set in Antarctica, BLACK CIPHER, and FORBIDDEN SUMMIT. I read them all and eagerly waited for the next.

But a strange thing happed on the way to thriller #5. Harrison disappeared off the literary scene. I didn’t think much of it until one day many years later when I was going through my books looking for a particular novel and noticed all of Harrison’s books on my shelf. I realized it have been quite a long time since his last. I did an Internet search for his name and came up with very little info except notes about his previous books. Every so often, I would repeat the search with the same results. Thirteen years went by and I assumed the worst: perhaps Payne Harrison was no longer with us. After all, why would a bestselling author just disappear and quite writing thrillers?

eurostorm Then a couple of weeks ago, an Amazon promo pinged in my inbox promoting the return of Payne Harrison and his new thriller, EUROSTORM. I put in my advance order and eagerly waited for the notice that it shipped. The book arrived last Friday, and I finished it over the 4th of July weekend.

Despite the 13 years absence, he has not missed a beat. The style, voice, and plotting are exactly as he left off. Reading the book was like running into an old friend after a long time apart. And EUROSTORM is like a thriller on steroids. There’s his usual huge cast of characters, impeccable research, slingshot pacing, and heart-stopping, cliffhanger chapter endings.

EUROSTORM involves deadly engineered viruses, terror and bloodshed on the Bullet Train from England to France, the reanimation of the Third Reich hierarchy after they were frozen decades ago, and the coming together of French and U.K. military assault teams with a big helping hand from a Chicago detective to stop a diabolical plan to murder millions in the name of the new Fourth Reich.

EUROSTORM is not perfect as no book ever is. In order to cover an immense amount of territory involving dozens of characters, Harrison must utilize omniscient third person POV. The camera is always at a distance so it’s hard to really “feel” for most of the characters. But this technique won’t stop you from rooting for the good guys and wishing nasty stuff on the baddies.

If you enjoy extremely fast-paced thrillers that cover a huge amount of ground and information while keeping you on the edge of your barstool, read EUROSTORM by Payne Harrison. I only hope I don’t have to wait another 13 years for his next one.

How about you? Have you ever had to wait what seemed like forever to read the next book by a favorite author? How long did you wait, and was it worth it?

7 thoughts on “The Return of Payne Harrison

  1. I have all but one of Shane Steven’s five novels. I’m missing RAT PACK and DEAD CITY. I guess somebody borrowed and didn’t return them. He was a talented author who stopped writing for some reason. All of his books are vastly different, extremely well written and it’s hard to find out much about him.

  2. I can’t say I’ve had that experience. My favorite authors tend to go the other direction. I’m not sure if they get over confident or what, but after several really good books they lose the spark that made their work special and I wish they had taken longer to come out with that next book so they could get it right.

  3. Wish there had been another novel by Harper Lee.

    We’ve had to wait a long time between S. E. Hinton novels. She apparently suffered through bouts of “early praise” writer’s block.

    Norman Mailer. He was savaged by critics in his middle years. But I have to admire him. He kept swinging for the fences (e.g., Harlot’s Ghost, about 7 years from his previous). The Executioner’s Song, narrative non-fiction, is a masterpiece of American letters.

  4. When I was a teen I really got into Frederick Forsythe (Day of the Jackal, Dogs of War got me started). I was always amazed at how powerful his books were, and realistic to the point of making me wonder if he was writing fictionalized fact.

    On the other hand, a couple of series writers I used to follow turned depressing as they kept putting out works that brought their image down with each book.

  5. I am all jazzed now and will check out Mr. Harrison.

    I love Tom Clancy and was absurdly pleased when I stumbled on Larry Bond who is second only to Tom in the military techno-thriller.

    I’ve read every word written by these two authors at least twice and have been moping around wanting more.

    While I find nothing better than a good techno, there is also nothing worse than a bad one. Handling military tech requires tremendous skill and I take your recommendation seriously.

    Can’t wait!


  6. Joe, it is exciting to rediscover an author who has disappeared for a while. Your post made me think of Donna Tartt, since waiting for her next book may involve a decade of time. I always wonder what she’s up to.

    And I thought of Gayle Rivers, who wrote the Viet Nam war/thriller The Five Fingers, and some other thrillers, in the 1980s. I wonder what happened to him.

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