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Seize the Storm

Seize the Storm

5.0 1
by Michael Cadnum

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Sailing from California to Hawaii, Susannah, her family, and a crewman are driven by a vicious storm into the path of a drifting powerboat. The ghostly boat carries the bodies of two drug runners and a huge stash of money. For the sailors, stealing the sordid treasure changes everything, causing dissent and division, compromising each of them, and putting their


Sailing from California to Hawaii, Susannah, her family, and a crewman are driven by a vicious storm into the path of a drifting powerboat. The ghostly boat carries the bodies of two drug runners and a huge stash of money. For the sailors, stealing the sordid treasure changes everything, causing dissent and division, compromising each of them, and putting their futures at risk. Because now they are being pursued by the worst enemies imaginable, including a drug lord's son eager to prove himself and a cold-blooded teenage hit man with murder on his mind.

Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up—Seventeen-year-old Susannah, her family, and an 18-year-old crewman are sailing from California to Hawaii. The trip starts out smoothly until they are driven by a storm into the path of a drifting powerboat. The mysterious vessel is carrying two dead bodies and a stash of 100-dollar bills. For Susannah and her family, this cash changes everything. Her father is in debt and could use it, but the teen would rather burn the money than keep it. Everyone on the yacht seems to have a different view of what to do with the find, causing dangerous divisiveness. The yacht is being followed by an airplane carrying some pretty bad dudes: Jeremy Tygart, a drug lord's son who wants to prove himself, and Shako, a teenage hit man who likes killing people. This adrenaline-filled adventure keeps readers on edge, and Cadnum has a way of making them feel as if they know each character personally. Teens who like action and adventure will enjoy this title.—Shannon Seglin, Patrick Henry Library, Vienna, VA
From the Publisher

“Fans of sea stories and suspense will enjoy this one.” —Booklist

Seize the Storm is a swiftly paced, exciting story written in clear, supple prose that is not easy to write but that is wonderfully easy to read.” —Dean Koontz

“An engrossing summertime escape, especially for guy readers.” —VOYA

“Aboard a yacht en route to Hawaii, 17-year-old Susannah, her parents, and the crew discover a seemingly abandoned boat but soon find it contains two dead bodies and a large satchel of cash, which they haul aboard. Big mistake . . . Fans of sea stories and suspense will enjoy this one.” —Booklist

“A masterful psychological thriller, seen through the eyes of multiple characters and told with enough suspense to keep you mighty wary of the sea for a spell. Fresh, unique, and well-plotted--it had me hooked from the first page to the last. I'm a fan. Definitely. Highly recommended!” —Graham Salisbury, author of Night of the Howling Dogs and Under the Blood-Red Sun

“Cadnum takes threatening weather, a shark, a lost dog and guns galore and turns them into a nightmare scenario.” —Kirkus Reviews

“Cadnum meticulously limns each character's personality and motives, embedding them in an expertly constructed web of intrigue. The straightforward prose attains elegance at times: Axel is described as ‘simple the way a thumb is simple'; the yacht gets tangled up in a huge wad of fishing like ‘a giant, diaphanous amoeba that spun out tendrils' . . . Lines such as these help place this drama of little people bobbing on the ocean's surface into a grander morality play in which big themes of fortune, greed, fate, and the certainty of death play out in a thrilling examination of ‘life's tough truths.'” —The Horn Book

VOYA - Allison Hunter Hill
Susannah is stuck on board sailing ship Athena's Secret with bickering parents, her attractive first cousin Martin, and a crewmember named Axel who will not stop hitting on her. This trip was supposed to be a straight shot from California to Hawaii, but when a mammoth storm sets the ship off course, everyone on board ends up getting much more than just a casual pleasure cruise. Athena's Secret barely makes it through the storm when they stumble across Witch Grass, an abandoned powerboat carrying a significant stash of money. Athena's Secret may have stumbled across the hoard by accident, but claiming salvage rights soon causes them more chaos than they ever imagined. A drug lord's dangerous son and two of his best hit men are on their trail, and will do anything to get the money back. Cadnum's story of modern survival at sea has all the makings of a great adventure: treasure, a set of murders, teen hit men, and attraction between characters. While many of these points deliver, the tension builds for too long with too little action for this to be a true page-turner. By no means is this a romance, but the casual attraction between the first cousins is a little strange. It is also difficult to become attached to any character because the narrator changes so frequently. Consider purchasing for reluctant readers or as an engrossing summertime escape, especially for guy readers. Reviewer: Allison Hunter Hill
Children's Literature - Lisa Colozza Cocca
How would someone react to finding a fortune? Cadnum explores this question in this adventure novel set on the high seas. The narrative is told in parallel story lines that later converge. When Leonard and Claudette Burgess see their world and their financial security crumbling around them during an economic downturn, they decide to take one last trip on their luxury yacht before selling it. They set off from California for Hawaii with their seventeen-year-old daughter, Susannah; their eighteen-year-old nephew, Martin; and a hired deckhand, eighteen-year-old Axel. As their journey progresses, they notice a small plane flying overhead. They are concerned when they realize the plane is sweeping an area rather than flying straight to a destination. Readers know the Burgess family has good cause to be concerned. The plane holds Jeremy, the son of a drug warlord; Elwood, a seasoned employee of Jeremy's father; and Shako, a fifteen-year-old hit man. The trio is in pursuit of a boat carrying a satchel of money owed to Jeremy's father. Their only orders are to collect and deliver the money to the waiting warlord. When the satchel is temporarily in the possession of the yacht's inhabitants, all of the characters struggle with the issue of what they are willing to do to get and keep the money. Cadnum builds suspense throughout the novel and culminates with a somewhat surprising ending. He does a fine job of defining each of the characters with his or her distinct personality. Adventure and suspense readers will enjoy this novel. Reviewer: Lisa Colozza Cocca
Kirkus Reviews
An ocean thriller brings a family clinging to lost affluence into the path of a drug warlord. From the first page, readers know that a merciless drug warlord is involved, but the family party, on a last yachting jaunt from San Francisco to Honolulu, is caught up in in its own worries. Leonard and Claudette have been living the high life, but their daughter, Susannah, and her cousin, Martin, know that the money is gone. Deck hand Axel is eye candy but also an opportunist looking for a break. When their luxury boat, Athena's Secret, crosses paths with the speedier Witch Grass, they find a fortune in cash, plus two dead guys: in other words, trouble. They commence a lackadaisical hunt for salvage that turns the voyage into more than a goodbye to a way of life--it could be a goodbye to life itself. Cadnum takes threatening weather, a shark, a lost dog and guns galore and turns them into a nightmare scenario. Then, unfortunately, he simply abandons the thriller formula as bad guys and demoralized family come face to face in an ending more whimper than bang. Psychological elements stemming from the relationships between those on the wrong and (supposedly) the right side of the law are introduced early on, but the author lets much of that simply fade. A seafaring adventure with all the elements of a great puzzle but the solution. (Thriller. 12-16)

Product Details

Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publication date:
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980L (what's this?)
File size:
586 KB
Age Range:
12 - 18 Years

Read an Excerpt





THE AIRCRAFT FLEW EASTWARD, its airspeed steady at one hundred and ninety miles per hour, one thousand feet above the Pacific, a red and white twin-engine customized de Havilland, outfitted for water takeoff and landing.

Jeremy switched on the radio again. “Witch Grass, this is Red Bird, do you copy?”

He said this over and over, nothing but faint white noise in his headset.

Jeremy turned off the transmitter. He liked using the radio, getting into that high-plains drawl pilots used, roger this, roger that. But you couldn’t have a conversation with nothing. Well, you could, but you’d be like one of those meth heads outside the video arcade in Kapaa, talking nonstop, no one listening.

Jeremy’s dad was a warlord criminal. Through minions, he dealt drugs to these ravaged souls, but his dad told Jeremy to stay away from both the dealers and their customers. He wanted Jeremy to learn from the predators at the top of the food chain, of which Elwood was the prime example.

Jeremy peeled the wrapper off a ProteinPlus bar, offering it to Elwood, who was piloting the plane, and then he unwrapped a bar for himself.

“Better wake Shako,” said Elwood, chewing hard around the wad of protein bar. “Make sure he eats one, too.”

Sure, wake Shako and feed him, thought Jeremy with an ironic smile. Like feeding a tarantula. He would wake Shako in a moment—you had to prepare yourself for the encounter.

“Fly out there with Elwood and don’t come back without the money,” his dad had said. He had been slumped in a chair beside his crumpled bedding two days after a hernia operation, the pain medication wearing off.

This was the first time Ted Tygart had ordered his son on an assignment, the first time Jeremy had gone on a non-drill operation with Elwood, and Jeremy dreaded disappointing either man.

Elwood piloted the airplane in his aloha shirt and Sleeping Giant Spa baseball cap, cargo pants, and black combat boots, a rangy man with red hair on his head and curly red hair on his arms. He needed a shave—he had been at the controls for more than six hours.

The aircraft had a range of over two thousand sea miles, thanks to auxiliary fuel reserves. Still, the plane could not go on like this forever, and besides, they would have to swing well to the north to avoid the storm heading this way.

A transponder on the missing vessel was sending out a location indicator, showing where the lost craft was, and that gave Elwood an illuminated image to follow on the radar screen. But it was very hard to translate the bright dot on the cockpit panel, a pulsing sore, to an actual position on the sea.

“I’m going to circle,” said Elwood, speaking easily over the sound of the engine.

He was not asking for permission, exactly, but the boss’s son got a little respect. Jeremy drew a little circle with his finger and nodded. These protein bars were full of flavor, but they stuck your teeth together.

The aircraft banked, slipping northward. Then they looped west. Jeremy kept his eyes on the tilting expanse before him, the Pacific a glittering slab, nothing visible but the skittering, fugitive ghost of the airplane’s shadow as the sun rose.

Jeremy slipped his BlackBerry out of his pocket and read the last message from Kyle. im KIA sht/Pl 2 bi me lzr trfd.

Even by the standards of compressed text messages, this communication had been terse. But the meaning was unmistakable, given Jeremy’s experience in figuring out messages from Kyle Molline. Kyle was always laughing, playing catch, fooling around.

I am killed in action—shot. Paul too, by me. Laser is terrified.

Laser was the dog, the three-year-old German shepherd that was supposed to keep Kyle company and act as backup security in case something went wrong. Jeremy liked Laser very much. He and Kyle played Frisbee with the dog, but Elwood hated the animal, and the dog hated him.

This message had to be an exaggeration. Kyle couldn’t be dead, as in actually dead. He was fooling around—but they could not be sure.

“Can I look at the gun?” asked Jeremy.

“Sure,” said Elwood.

But he gave a little tilt of his head and a set of his mouth that let Jeremy know: be careful.

He leaned down and picked up the MP5 from the floor of the aircraft, down there with the canvas backpack of emergency gear—a flashlight, a flare gun and an air horn, and a zipped-up black gun case, part of Elwood’s personal arsenal.

The Heckler & Koch had a teardrop-shaped safety switch on the side and diagrams showing the rate of fire settings. The full automatic setting was a stream of bullets like red footballs. The barrel would get so hot the operator needed to wear protective gloves. The canvas pack contained a pair of Blackhawk Hot Ops gloves ready and waiting. Elwood had loaned the weapon to Jeremy for practice outings, cutting plumeria branches to pieces.

Property San Jose PD was etched along the stock. It had been stolen right out of a police yard vehicle by one of Elwood’s former associates.

“I have two clips down there in the bag,” said Elwood, “along with some other stuff. And Shako has a couple extra clips, along with his own ammo. Don’t you, Shako?”

This last was louder than the rest, and Jeremy could feel Shako stirring in the rear of the passenger compartment.

Shako wore wraparound Cartier sunglasses, black Noko denims, and Black Mamba edition Nikes. He had close-cropped brown hair like a scrub pad, and was tanned dark by the Hawaiian sunlight. Shako was fifteen years old and had killed people. Jeremy understood that he had taken lives for hire in Richmond, California, where he was from, and on the high seas off the Big Island and Maui. Two years younger than Jeremy, he was a professional.

Shako lifted his sunglasses, revealing green eyes. He stared right back, an interesting experience for Jeremy. His eyes were two decimal points, vision-holes. They gave no evidence of feeling or personality. Shako had smack down tattooed on his right arm, and something in Chinese tattooed on his left arm.

“You woke him up, Elwood,” said Jeremy, to place the blame where it belonged.

“Sorry, there, Mr. Quinn,” said Elwood. “I was going to ask if you were hungry. Jeremy brought us some snacks.”

Elwood was maybe forty years old and he called Shako “mister.” When you were a killer like Shako, you got respect.

Shako looked at the protein bar Jeremy was offering and reached out and took it.

It was like the time an elephant took a peanut from Jeremy’s hand, outside the new Safeway in Lihue. It was a surprise acceptance, the trunk curling around and tucking the peanut into the great mammal’s unexpectedly tiny mouth. Jeremy had felt honored.

There was a tug at his sleeve, and to his surprise Shako was handing a protein bar of his own between the seats, an exchange, a CLIF Organic ZBar.

“Thanks, Shako,” said Jeremy.

Behind his sunglasses, Shako was tightening his lips together, not a smile exactly, but close.

Jeremy was surprised. A gesture of friendship from Shako. He could hardly wait to tell Kyle that maybe Shako was human.

Because Kyle was alive. He had to be. You could talk to Kyle, not like hanging out with Shako, afraid he might take offense and shoot your head off.

“Take a look, to the south, Jeremy,” Elwood said, pointing. “One of those yachts your dad always wanted.”

He banked the plane and Jeremy used the binoculars, taking in the yacht and the spacious, metallic ocean.

“It would be nice to capture that,” said Elwood musingly. “It would sure make your dad happy. I’d be pleased just to set foot on a vessel like that.”

That was one more problem with Elwood. He was civil, but he insinuated his way into your thoughts and generally did things his way. Even bringing Shako along had been his idea. What was he talking about now, stealing yachts?

Not one of them was paying that much attention when they hit the thing. One moment Elwood was taking a drink of vitaminwater and Jeremy was using his teeth to open the CLIF bar and Shako was settling back down in the back, like an eel back into his shadows.

With a startling whiplash snap, the Plexiglas windscreen took a hit, cracks all over the surface, and there was a simultaneous shock that traveled along the framework of the aircraft.

Jeremy had sometimes wondered what people did during a plane crash. Did they say anything, or did they spend their last moments with silently gritted teeth, making sure their seat belts were snug? Or did people who never gave a thought to God suddenly think hard about the Almighty?

Or maybe people didn’t really do very much at all, too alarmed and too busy inwardly bracing for impact.

Because that was basically what Jeremy did, and Elwood, too, as though flying straight down like this was what they had planned. Only Shako, the professional killer, was wailing, like a hurt animal, or actually more like a hurt and stricken person, stuck in a crack and the crack closing, about to die.


Text copyright © 2012 by Michael Cadnum

Meet the Author

MICHAEL CADNUM lives in Albany, California. He is the author of many acclaimed titles, including the medieval adventure The Book of the Lion, a National Book Award finalist.

MICHAEL CADNUM lives in Albany, California. He is the author of many acclaimed titles, including Flash, Peril on the Sea, and The Book of the Lion, a National Book Award finalist.

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Seize the Storm 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago