Gilman, David. Ice Claw.
Max Gordon is back and as active as ever. While training to compete in an extreme sports challenge in France, he sees a monk killed. After escaping from a couple of avalanches as well as saving Sophie from being run over by a car, he starts to investigate and finds that Sophie's father knew the monk. Max spends some time at the chateau of a fellow competitor, Bobby, then heads to Morocco with Sophie. Will he manage to save the world from an ecological disaster? Not without a lot of travel about, as well as some injuries.
Strengths: And you thought Stormbreaker was action-packed? This sequel to The Devil's Breath was quite the whirlwind! British television writers have my full permission to turn to young adult novels. (Gilman writes for Touch of Frost; Horowitz for Foyle's War.) The travel research is clearly evident, and Max and his friends are fully developed characters with a wide range of emotions. The writing is also very clever; after reading Patterson, this was a delight. I have four copies of the first book now, and they are never on the shelf!
Weaknesses: It is a whirlwind. Struggling readers may balk at the length and complexity of this one.
Bowler, Tim. Out of the Shadows. (Blade: Book 2)
This sequel to Playing Dead finds Blade still on the run. He's been badly injured enough that he's in the hospital, but he know he must escape or he'll be killed. He is helped along the way by Mary, about whom we learn some big secrets, and tries to save Jaz, the child he meets in book one. We're not quite sure who is after Blade, but we know that he must keep running to stay safe.
Strengths: Action, action, action, and a street smart main character who has ties to the criminal underworld. In book one, Blade survives by living in people's homes when they go away for several days! These books are gritty without resorting to bad language.
Weaknesses: Very confusing. The students don't seem to mind, but I'd like to know who the constantly addressed Bigeyes is. There is also a lot of British slang. Despite this, I found myself enjoying this more than I would have suspected.