Penguin Books AUS
Copy courtesy of the publisher
Billy Hotchkiss was a teenage driving sensation until, at age 18, he rolled his V8 Commodore on a lap of the Bathurst 1000 and was severely injured. He walked away from racing car driving and joined the Victorian police force, seeking the rush that driving a high performance vehicle gave to him. When he’s walking in Melbourne during the first round of the Formula 1 World Championship, Billy spots a diamond heist in progress. He isn’t able to stop the thieves but his efforts do not go unnoticed. Even though he’s forced to resign from his job with Victoria Police, Billy is almost immediately offered new employment.
Interpol have seen footage of Billy’s attempt at stopping the heist and it’s only a matter of time until they see some of his driving footage too. They think he’d be perfect to go undercover in the Formula 1 world because every time there’s a race, somewhere else in the city there’s a daring theft of diamonds. Billy has the perfect cover – no one would suspect a laidback Aussie just looking to get back into the sport. Saddled with a reluctant French partner named Claude Michelle who needs to return to the field to ensure a promotion, Billy joins the Iron Rhino F1 team.
From Singapore to Dubai to the cream of the F1 calendar in Monaco, Billy and Claude race to gather the information they need to bring down the brazen criminals. However the more they find out, the more they realise the diamonds are just the beginning and there’s a huge finale planned that could cause a catastrophic loss of life during the pinnacle of the F1 season. It’s up to Billy and Claude to work together and stop a terror attack.
Quick is Steve Worland’s third action packed novel and we turn to the high-octane world of Formula One racing as the backdrop. What I know about Formula One racing you could about fit on the head of a pin because it begins and ends with basically Schumacher. However my brother is a bona fide obsessive who gets up to watch races at odd times (who watches qualifying!) and knows pretty much all there is to know and he was on the other end of the phone throughout the whole time I was reading this book as I asked him questions and verified things! In fact my brother hasn’t read a book since high school (and I’m not entirely sure that he even read the ones he was supposed to for school) but when I told him about this one, he got really interested. He likes action movies and he loves car racing and I had him very curious from the opening pages, which describe Billy’s ill-fated lap in the 2008 Bathurst 1000. And this book was actually enough to get me curious about Formula 1 racing! I’ve never had much interest in it before (or any) but learning about some of the ins and outs of the sport and the money that gets poured into it and how hard it is to break into it and the skill in driving has made me realise just how much goes into the sport and how much it drives the economy in some places as well as how much some teams spend to advance! It seems well researched and accurate, the only difference I can see is that Worland seems to have played a little fast and loose with the F1 calendar, rearranging the schedule to give his criminals opportunities to hit large targets consecutively.
I’ve said before that I think Worland’s novels would make great movies, should they ever be able to achieve an option that comes with a Hollywood blockbuster budget and this one is no exception. There’s plenty of action, some of it even on the racing track! Billy, despite still carrying some injuries is still an adrenalin seeker, always searching for something that gives him the same thrill as driving did. Unfortunately, most things don’t and he is known in his job for going that extra mile, sometimes too far. He’s a quintessentially laid-back Aussie guy kinda character, the sort of person that it’s not too much of a stretch to imagine yourself knowing or having grown up with. Billy is the kind of character that will appeal to most readers because he’s the “everyday” kinda man but one who has some pretty mad skills. He gets paired up with Claude Michelle, a French Interpol agent who has been working a desk job in recent years although he was once a formidable field operative. To say Claude is reluctant to be paired with a green Aussie is an understatement and the two of them get off on the wrong foot and have a series of awkward moments and disagreements before learning to work together and respect each other’s abilities as they search for the identity of the criminals, who they are convinced are from the F1 world. There’s no denying that the organisation behind the group is second to none and the heists are all very clever, quick and easily pulled off. Billy is perhaps the only person who has a clue to one of the member’s identities although it’s still nothing concrete. I really enjoyed how the story surrounding the ‘Three Champions’ (the name Interpol gives the thieves) played out – it taps into something gossip magazines have been wondering about for years and couples it with a terrorist threat that could lead to a result potentially greater than 9/11.
Quick is an extremely fast-pace, high thrill action adventure that will keep the reader hooked from beginning to end. Even if you’re not a fan of car racing, don’t let that turn you off this novel. It’s not a hugely invasive part of the story line and more just provides a glamorous international backdrop. However if you are a fan then I also think there’s enough in here about the sport to keep the reader satisfied.
Book #164 of 2014
Quick is book #13 of the Aussie Author Challenge 2014.