T. Jefferson Parker has made his mark in the mystery world with thrillers like California Girl and The Fallen. His plots are unfailingly fast-paced, and itís usually difficult to put his books down once they have been started. Storm Runners, however, doesnít quite live up to his standards for a number of reasons.
Storm Runners is the story of Matt Stromsoe, a former detective who lost his wife and son, as well as an eye and full use of his legs, to a bomb set by Mike Tavarez, a Mexican gang leader who was once Mattís friend in high school. After recovering physically as well as he can, Matt spends months as an alcoholic, trying to recover emotionally. He eventually finds his way back to a somewhat normal life when he becomes a private investigator and meets Frankie Hatfield, a weatherwoman who is being stalked. Matt begins providing bodyguard services for her and learns that Frankie is not only a weatherwoman; she is also trying to create a formula that will make rain. Her efforts have attracted the attention of some powerful people who have their own reasons for not wanting extra rainóand these powerful people eventually lead to none other than Mike Tavarez. Will Matt be able to save Frankie and exact revenge on Mike before itís too late?
Storm Runners starts out like most of Parkerís novelsófast-paced and very difficult to put down. However, after the first few chapters, it starts losing steam and never really recovers. Maybe itís the rainmaking plotline, which never really takes off or seems very interesting. Or maybe itís Mattís character, who doesnít develop much after he becomes a P.I. To make matters worse, the book leaves quite a few loose ends dangling (there are many hints that Mattís wife was not the wonderful woman he thought, but the author never explains) and the end of the novel is one of the most anticlimactic Iíve read in a long time. At under 400 pages, Storm Runners could have benefited from at least another fifty to a hundred pages of character development and a more satisfying conclusion.
Though Storm Runners does not live up to the expectations Parker has set with his prior novels, itís not bad enough to make readers lose faith in his writing abilities. The possibility for a great novel is there; it just never quite delivers. This just might make readers hungry for his next novel, which hopefully will see the author back in his normal fine form.