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 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?
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?