The past year has been a whirlwind for Benedict Carrington, the death of both his parents, his introduction to former astronaut turned industrialist Jason Truby, his involvement with the secret rescue operation Gemini Force One, and the two highly dangerous missions recounted in Black Horizon and Ghost Mine.
Still only a teenager, Ben has made the decision to resign from the responsibility of being a millionaire and donated his entire fortune to set up a charity to support the families of the plundered gold mine he met in his previous adventure, although he now aim for a greater duty, that of being a full member of Gemini Force One, though still with much to learn and requiring the approval of Truby.
For once, the book does not open with immediate peril, though that doesn’t take long: Ben, Truby and Jasmine Dietz are in Geneva for a meeting with Professor Gerald Anderson to discuss their new snow rescue craft when a jet crashes into a railway tunnel high in the mountains, a double disaster in which the team are too late to offer much assistance beyond pulling out the burnt bodies of the dead.
Back at base, the devastating impact on Ben’s previously optimistic demeanour doubled by the need to review the camera footage from their rescue suits, it is an unproductive task which fails to address the inconsistencies in events or answer how the tragedy came to pass. The one bright spot is his growing closeness with Jasmine, complicated by the fact that she is soon to return to school and – officially at least – has a boyfriend and it’s not Ben.
Asked by Jason to accompany him on a return trip to Switzerland where he is expected to attend a gathering of financiers and prominent politicians, instead, a second disaster strikes. While Ben and his new friend, musician Holden White of Rock Snakes of Mars, are paraskiing in the mountains, a massive avalanche blankets the roads and buries a coach full of dignitaries. Time is running out, but bringing in Gemini Force One while the world watches will mean losing their anonymity forever.
The final novel in the Gemini Force One trilogy, the success of which will inform whether there are any additional stories forthcoming, it is written with the same momentum and breathless excitement as before, but it also feels very much like more of the same rather than a progression.
Ben is still learning lessons, both in life and in the skills he will need if he is to become a full member of Truby’s team, and the hope that this story would finally unleash the action of a dedicated mission remains unfulfilled; if anything, with the focus predominantly on Ben, particularly for the later part of the novel when he must operate solo, the rest of the team actually have a reduced presence.
Revisiting some of the threads built through the series, White Storm once again sees Ben as a danger magnet, but it is frustrating how slowly it occurs to both him and Truby that events are being manipulated, that the accidents have occurred not simply while they are in the area but actually because they are in the area in order to force their hand and expose them.
That said, as with the previous adventures it remains enjoyable to the end and consolidates the series in a position to launch into further adventures should sales warrant a continuation, an outcome which would be both deserved and welcome.
Gerry Anderson’s Gemini Force One: White Storm is available now from Orion