Orbit Books, p/b, £8.99

Reviewed by Matthew Johns

This is the 2nd in book in Ford’s Frost Files, the exciting exploits of Teagan Frost – LA-based psychokinetic government operative working for the clandestine team known as “China Shop”. While this book doesn’t explicitly explore Teagan’s origins, the narrative reveals that her powers were somehow given to her by experiments that her parents conducted. As far as she’s aware, she’s one of the only people in the world with powers and puts them to use for the government in return for not being dissected and experimented upon by government scientists.

While one of the quotes on the book cover compares this to “Alias meets X-Men”, Teagan doesn’t quite have her sh*t together as much as either Sydney Bristow or Jean Grey. She’s been unlucky in love and secretly longs to train as a chef, as opposed to carrying out clandestine operations. The China Shop team are more akin to the Suicide Squad than the X-Men. Headed up by Paul, a former Navy quartermaster, with his lover Annie – an ex-gangster, Reggie, an incomplete paraplegic – the techie and brains of the outfit, and Teagan, ably assisted by their 7-foot tall formerly homeless but eternally cheerful Senegalese driver who insists everyone call him “Africa”.

A sudden, massive earthquake rocks part of LA, wiping out San Bernardino and sending the rest of the city into panic mode, anticipating after-shocks. Reggie discovers that it was caused by a young boy that seems to have similar powers to Teagan. With the threat of cataclysmic earthquakes hanging over their heads should he manage to trigger the Cascadia fault line (which is even bigger than the San Andreas fault, and could potentially wipe out half of the US as well as sending an enormous tsunami hurtling towards Japan), the China Shop team is dispatched to find him.

Ford has created a thrilling read – taking the reader on a rollercoaster ride through earthquakes, almost post-apocalyptic LA and more. His prose features conflicted and wholly human-seeming characters despite some of them having special powers. It explores themes of loss, separation, not fitting in, prejudice, fear, love and even parenthood. It’s a compulsive read that stands alone well – he weaves the tale with skill so that you don’t have to have read the first instalment to be able to follow the story, but it does leave you wanting to read it afterwards. He builds credible characters that he puts through almost every imaginable emotion in the course of his tale and brings the reader on the journey with his characters leading to an inevitable cliff-hanger nicely lining up the third book in this series.

1 Comment on RANDOM SH*T FLYING THROUGH THE AIR by Jackson Ford

  1. is a non-stop thrill ride full of chase scenes, airplane hijinks, assassination attempts and much more. Not to mention there is a psychotic four-year-old—who just happens to be scary smart—gleefully trying to bring California to its knees. Matthew—the little boy—is accompanied by his mother Amber, a weary and terrified young woman who is desperate to protect her child while coming to grips with the fact that he wants to destroy the Western Seaboard. I ended up really liking Amber, who goes through a lot of growth during the story and finally shows some backbone, despite the fact that her own son is manipulating and controlling her. The downside of so much action is that the author is always trying to top himself, and the action sequences tend to get more unbelievable as the story goes along. There are also quite a few outrageous coincidences that made me roll my eyes, but because this is speculative fiction, and because I was having so much fun, I didn’t mind too much.  While the action and coincidences may seem unbelievable and over the top, Jackson Ford’s characters and humor were spot on. I laughed out loud a

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