Stormy Suspense

Francis is on another winner with this tale of spies, skulduggery and storms.

His witty, understated, ironic style, laced with typically British humor, will charm the reader in his latest contribution to the literary world, "Second Wind".

Dick Francis, known for his thrillers, has a long-established reputation for masterminding some of the finest crime novels in fiction today. A look at his trophy cabinet will reveal the Crime Writer's Association's Cartier Diamond Dagger and The Mystery Writers Of America Grand Master Lifetime Achievement Award, among several other accolades.

The plot of this novel has been woven by the skilled hand of a veteran crime writer and its twists and turns will adequately bemuse the crime fiction infatuate.

After a provocative prologue, we're made to shake hands with Caspar Harvey, a prominent race-horse owner who's hosting a celebratory lunch at Newmarket to which Kris Ironside, a weather forecaster by profession, aged thirty-one is invited; and to which his colleague, Perry Stuart, a weatherman with a doctorate in physics, is dragged along. There, the duo meet Robin Darcy, a resident of Florida, who has a mushroom business.

Before long, Ironside, an avid pilot, and Stuart, find themselves on an airplane, commissioned by Darcy to fly through the eye of Hurricane Odin which is gathering speed of the shores of Trox, a small island in the Western Caribbean. They are to stop over first at Trox and check on Darcy's mushroom warehouses - something they are more than willing to do for a man who has funded their lifelong dream of flying through a hurricane.

The flight plan goes haywire when the duo's plane crashes into the sea after hitting the hurricane's eye-wall. Ironside and Stuart are separated. Stuart is washed up on the shores of Trox - an abandoned, deserted, unclaimed little island and in his four days forced stop-over, before the arrival of a rescue team in the form of masked gunmen, Stuart discovers a herd of cows, gets infected by a strange disease, and uncovers a metal safe with typed papers containing heaps of information written in undecipherable languages.

Over four solitary days, Perry Stuart, Ph.D discovers that he's sitting on a whole seething network of spies, undercover agents, secret missions and strange agendas.

The beauty of the plot lies in the way it zips up seemingly unrelated incidents, neatly together. The characters are all delightful. Stuart, the discerning physicist; Kris, the suicidal weatherman; Belladonna Harvey, the fiery assistant horse trainer; Stuart's spunky grandmother; the practical nurse Jett Van Els and the mysterious Darcy all make for great reading.

The book's real worth lies in the insight it provides on weather forecasting - the professionals engaged in interpreting weather conditions, its resource centers and its significance to human life.

This article was first published on27 Sep 2000.