Fortune has her long-anticipated showdown with Ahmad, the arms dealer with a price on her head, in Hurricane Force by Jana DeLeon. The previous book, Soldiers of Fortune, concluded with the arrival of Max Arceneaux, the long-disappeared husband of Celia Arceneaux, the mayor of Sinful, at least until the election auditors finish their job. The morning that this book opens, Max shows up in the diner, prompting Allie, Fortune’s friend staying with her temporarily and the niece of Celia, to call Fortune, who immediately picks up her partners in crime, Ida Belle and Gertie, and races to the diner. They arrive just in time to watch the fight between Max and Celia, in which Max announces to the whole world that Celia’s daughter, Pansy, is not his daughter. Stalking out of the diner, Celia goes straight to the general store and buys shotgun shells. So when Max turns up dead in Celia’s kitchen of two shotgun blasts and Celia turns on Fortune, her favorite “Yankee” target, Fortune responds by accusing the town bitch of committing the murder herself, leading to Celia’s running away to hide.
In the meanwhile, a hurricane comes to Louisiana, forcing many in the town to hole up in the church. In the midst of the storm, Deputy Carter and his uncle, Walter, push open the church door with Fortune’s help to discover $100 bills flying around the area. Immediately, Fortune’s “spidy sense” goes on alert, and she instinctively knows that the bills are counterfeit. Soon after, Harrison, Fortune’s CIA partner, calls her with news that Ahmad has surfaced in New Orleans, tied to counterfeit money which carries flaws identical to those in Fortune’s hand. Harrison is ready to pull Fortune out of Sinful to protect her, but she convinces him that the better option is to use her to lure Ahmad out of hiding. He leaves her to look into the Sinful connection, while he looks into the New Orleans angle.
Using that spidy sense, Fortune decides to start by focusing on Max, whose body was discovered after the hurricane. This leads to an interesting trail of investigation that includes a car chase away from the bad guys in which Gertie offers Fortune her grenade and takes them out with a toilet! The rest of the book follows the series’ usual unpredictable trail that never ceases to thrill and delight.
Throughout the course of this series, Fortune has points of beginning to look internally and figure out what she wants in her life. That introspection builds in this book, as she faces the prospect of possibly being freed from the price on her head and tries to figure out what she wants to do with her life. This helps turn what could be a stock character into a well-defined, personally believable character.
The audio version is read by Cassandra Campbell. I still enjoy her narration seven books into the series. The one negative detail I brought up in my review of the previous book, Soldiers of Fortune, that Campbell mispronounces the name of Ahmad, became more of an annoyance in this book, since he becomes a much more significant force in this book.
Even though Hurricane Force shifts in mood from the fun and wild hijinks that Ida Belle and Gertie get Fortune involved in, the book succeeds well in its more serious parts as well as the silly ones. I really enjoyed learning more about Fortune’s personal life and the challenges she faces trying to get in touch with her true self. And of course I loved the further wild adventures of the trio. This book highly deserves its five stars!
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