Book review

Flash Flood by Chris Ryan (2006)

Flooding. Something we are all becoming uncomfortably familiar with.

Obviously, in a dangerous flash flood situation, there are some things you might know that are likely to help, such as how to swim, for example. And there are some things that you should always do, like keep your wits about you. But mainly, as with most disasters, your best hope is that you happen not to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Tricky. Tricky for Ben, because on the day when London floods he happens to be there visiting. He's on his way to meet his Mum, Dr Bel Kelland, the famous environmentalist. As luck would have it, Ben is safe, high up in a tall building when the river level first starts to rise. In fact he can watch it all through binoculars from the viewing gallery:

And then he began to see the people - helpless shapes borne along by the tide, arms waving as they tried to attract attention, to get help, to grab onto things. Others were holding onto trees, clinging on like monkeys, trying to climb out of the water. The trees looked fragile and spindly, like clumps of coral. Ben realized their trunks were submerged: only their tops stood clear of the water.
One woman was trying to hold onto a coral-tree, but the brances wouldn't take her weight. Ben watched, appalled, as the branches snapped and she was pulled off into the current. Then he swung the binoculars away. He didn't want to see any more.

It's important in a situation like this, that you make the right decision. Ben assembles with the office staff in the emergency muster point and it looks as though everything is going to be alright for him, until there is a fire in his building. Ben manages to escape in an emergency raft through the window, with three other adults. But a small raft on a large river in spate is no place to be...

If you want to know what happens next, you'll have to read the book. But for sure, London in crisis brings out the best and the worst in people.

A fast-moving real-life adventure story. I was quite enjoying it, until I found myself crawling around under the floorboards with hundreds of rats:

Something brushed past his arm and he heard the squeaking again. This time he saw more sequins of light, some of them blinking at him. Then he saw torpedo shapes running about, then stopping abruptly. Tails flicked in the gloom.
The crawl space was full of rats.
Ben went cold all over. What was this under his hands? It felt like earth, but was it rat droppings?
He felt bile rising in his throat. He wanted to turn round and go back there and then. But this was the only way out of the cellar.

What can I read next?

Chris Ryan writes brilliant adventure stories. If you enjoy this book, look out for the next Code Red adventure in the series:

  • Wildfire

He has also written the hugely successful Alpha Force series. Have a look at his one:

If you like Chris Ryan's books you should also check out the Alex Rider series by Anthony Horowitz:

And there is a brilliant sequence by Andy McNab and Robert Rigby:

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