A forecaster at the turn of the millennium, using a nonoperational program of her own design, fears a hurricane is headed straight for an ill-prepared New York City in this thriller.
Reporter Jack Corbin’s proposed feature on National Hurricane Center forecaster Amanda Cole may be an excuse to be on-site for a storm’s landfall. He gets his wish, for better or worse, when Hurricane Gert hits right where he, Amanda, and photographer Juan Rico are waiting on Topsail Island, North Carolina. Amanda, however, is worried about an apparent last-minute glitch in the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory computer model for predicting storm movements. The program Amanda’s designed, the LORAX, or LOng RAnge eXtrapolation Hurricane Model, still in its test phase, is shut down during impending tempests to give processor power to the Geophysical lab. But a retro look reveals that the LORAX would have guessed Gert’s otherwise-unforeseen bump in strength. And now her program’s predicting forthcoming Hurricane Harvey will make landfall in New York. Jack, meanwhile, sees a potential story elsewhere: an individual made a “timely trade” on an insurance company’s stocks just before Gert hit land. This may relate to why someone’s evidently trying to prevent an evacuation in New York. But Amanda’s determined to warn everyone, not the least of whom is stubborn ex-husband Joe Springer, at a New Jersey beach with their 6-year-old daughter, Sarah. The disaster novel packs quite a bit of mystery: dubious goings-on, for example, somehow link to mole people living under the city and a Dominican drug family’s communication with the enigmatically named Octopus. But Britt (First Kill, 2016, etc.) makes it clear that Harvey’s the true antagonist, with colossal waves flooding the streets and heavy winds tearing roofs from buildings. Jack and Amanda, reunited after sparks during Hurricane Andrew in 1992, share a somewhat hastily re-energized romance on Topsail. This does, nonetheless, add Jack to Amanda’s growing list of anxieties while the storm rages on, along with her dad, Ed, at a Coney Island nursing home, and Sarah. Perspectives from multiple characters are a worthy setup for an exhilarating final act, with a relentless hurricane and a frighteningly high body count.
A vigorous tale in which a violent, inescapable storm terrorizes everyone, even the villains.