Quick – Steve Worland

QuickIf the world’s most demented stuntman wrote a book while plummeting from a plane at 30,000 feet without a parachute and sucking on a crack pipe, it would be something like Quick.

The blurb didn’t even bother fitting a brake pedal:

Melbourne, Australia: Round one of the Formula One World Championship. Billy Hotchkiss no longer races a V8 Supercar, but that doesn’t mean he’s lost the need for speed. When the young cop uncovers a diamond heist in progress he leaps into action and almost captures the thieves single-handedly.

Lyon, France: Interpol are convinced the criminals are somehow connected to Formula One. And they think this Australian ex-race driver is just the guy to stop them.

Sent undercover with an unwilling French partner, Billy is thrust into the glamorous world of international motor racing. But as the duo closes in on the thieves they soon expose a far more sinister threat.

With the fate of a city and the lives of one hundred thousand people in the balance, Billy must drive like never before to stop the worst act of terror since 9/11.

Quick is an action-thriller for petrol heads, the kind of people who actually know the names of those back-grid Formula 1 drivers who routinely never reach the end of the first lap. If you have any idea what a V8 Supercar is, this is the book for you.

This is not a book to be savoured for its complex plot and subtle characterization. It’s the action you’re here for, and it doesn’t disappoint. Quick’s extended action-sequences flip the finger to the law of physics and give the narrative tremendous G-Force acceleration.

These sequences, which explode every few pages or so, in case you should be in any slight danger of nodding off, feature every vehicle known to man – cars and trucks of every shape and horsepower, but also bikes, mini-helicopters, planes, even something called a zorb, which is like a giant hamster ball — but for persons! They’re the kind of elaborate WTF chases that would make Vin Diesel wave the Highway Code in submission.

And because Worland – author of thrillers with other equally kinetic titles such as Combustion and Velocity – is also a screenwriter, he knows how to crank up Billy’s dangerous situation to the max, making these set-pieces ever more and more unpredictable and treacherous, so that his situation goes from bad to worse to, er, worser.

On the few pages where things slow down the stuff about the ludicrous international circus of Formula 1–- those of us who think car-racing is as easy as sitting down for a couple of hours may learn a few things –- is fascinating, and Worland drops a few well-known motor-racing names to give the whole thing a bit of flesh.

I may have mentioned that Quick isn’t a subtle book. Billy and his French partner Claude, bromantic brothers-in-arms, indulge in the kind of endless, soul-wearying banter that makes you wish more than once that they’d both go up in a fireball, but it has a breathless exuberance and playfulness about it. Quick is perfectly aware that it’s bonkers-on-a-stick and it revels in its own audacious, logic-defying entertainment.

Thanks to Steve Worland and Michael Joseph for the review copy of Quick.

Way back when this site was young and reckless and didn’t have as many chins as it does now, Mr. Worland was one of the first authors to take part in The Intel, and you can reacquaint yourelf with that right here.

And I’m glad thrilled to say that Steve is going to be doing a high-octane Guest Post for us very soon –- look out for that!

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