CHERUB: Divine Madness is the fifth book in the CHERUB series.
After the NSA intercepts an email mentioning a potential Help Earth attack in Hong Kong, Kerry, Bruce and Kyle are sent on a mission to Hong Kong to befriend Clyde Xu, a teenage environmentalist mentioned in the email. Mission controller John Jones eavesdrops on a meeting between Xu and an Australian Help Earth operative, Barry Cox, who instructs Xu to place plastic explosives in the luggage of an oil executive. Bruce pursues Cox to his hotel and knocks him out before stealing his computer and other important documents. Having completed the mission objective of obtaining leads on Help Earth, assistant mission controller Chloe switches the explosive with an identical but expired batch and the cherubs return to Britain.
The investigation into Cox initially reveals no leads, but by chance an MI5 analyst finds a link between Cox and an Australian stockbroking firm. The Australian intelligence service, ASIS, subsequently begin their own investigation and discover that the firm's major clients are a secretive but wealthy Australian cult, the Survivors; furthermore, they also find evidence suggesting that the Survivors are siphoning profits from their multiple investments to fund Help Earth. ASIS recruit James, Lauren and Dana to pose as the children of ASIS agent Abigail Sanders and infiltrate Help Earth in order to investigate the links further. Before he departs to Brisbane to begin the mission, James and Kerry reconcile and decide that they will resume their relationship when James returns.
The cherubs soon make inroads into the Survivors, with James befriending two Survivors in his class and Lauren being sent to a Survivor counsellor who suggests that she and her "family" join a youth group at the Survivor's Brisbane commune. Abigail and the cherubs pretend to be lured in by the Survivors, including the smooth-talking commune leader Elliot Moss and teenager Eve Stannis, and their manipulative techniques, eventually moving into the commune.
As part of his cover, James assists Elliot and Eve in the Survivors' charitable efforts by selling items to the residents of a retirement home. Elliot tries to convince a elderly millionairess, Emily Wildman, to leave her fortune to the Survivors, much to the fury of her violent-tempered son Ronnie. Things come to a head when, during a meeting between Elliot, Emily and Ronnie, Ronnie loses his temper and stabs Elliot before being knocked out by James. The commune, keen to avoid details of the altercation becoming public, send James and Lauren to the Survivors' boarding school in the "Ark", a complex intended to shelter the Survivors in the event of an apocalyptic nuclear war.
In the Ark, James befriends Rathbone "Rat" Regan, the youngest son of the Survivors' controversial leader, Joel Regan, who sees through the cult as a money-making scam. Rat introduces James to his step-mother Susie Regan and convinces her to use her influence within the Survivors to obtain cushy work assignments jobs for the cherubs. Lauren ends up assigned to work with Rat as an office assistant, while James assists a Survivor, Ernie Craig, in collecting and delivering mail for the Survivors, as well as a group of Americans who are friends of Susie's and live in the Outback, ostensibly manufacturing paint. James discovers that one of the Americans is Mike Evans, the younger brother of Help Earth operative Brian Evans, and that they have been using the paint business as a front for a laboratory. After being forced to help Ernie and Mike pack up the lab and put it on a plane, James alerts John.
Meanwhile, back in Brisbane, Elliot's deputy sends Dana and Eve to Darwin on a top-secret mission, revealing only that the mission has been ordered by Susie Regan. The two arrive in Darwin to be greeted by Cox and his fellow Help Earth operative Nina Richards. Cox explains that they will be bombing an LNG supertanker and terminal. Dana assumes that they will be bombing a nearby port and alerts John. Chloe informs Lauren that the Australian military will storm the Ark that night and orders her and James to copy Susie's documents and evacuate. James and Lauren are followed by Rat, who leads them to Susie's office but they discover that Susie has taken all of the hard drives from the computers. Rat confronts James and Lauren, forcing them to reveal CHERUB's existence to him. James, Lauren and Rat try to escape the Ark, but discover that Susie has killed Joel and fled with her secret lover, Brian Evans, planning to divert attention away from the links between the Help Earth attack and the money she has siphoned from the Survivors. Joel's eldest daughter and second-in-command, Eleanor "The Spider" Regan, discovers her father's death and places the Ark into lockdown, fearing an attack.
Cox, having anticipated that ASIS might try to stop the attack, kills the ASIS agents following the group and reveals to Dana and Eve that they will be flying to the Wessel Islands before sailing to their real target, a port in Indonesia. On their boat, Dana overpowers Cox and Nina, who shoots Dana in the toe before Dana knocks her out. However, Dana is too late to stop Eve from commandeering the yacht's dinghy in a desperate attempt to carry out the mission herself.
The Australian military begin their raid on the Ark, but are forced to temporarily retreat after the Survivors shoot down a helicopter. James, Lauren and Rat try to escape but are captured by Ernie and taken to The Spider, who orders James' brutal teacher Georgie to take them back to their dorm. However, Georgie, mistrusting Rat, instead keeps them locked in the nursery. Rat suggests that they can escape through the Ark's sewage system. When The Spider orders the Survivors to rig the Ark with explosives and retreat to an underground bunker, James incapacitates Georgie and he, Rat and Lauren (who insists that the kids in the nursery escape with them) make their way to the Ark's sewer. Ernie appears and tries to herd the children to the bunker, but Rat convinces him that the Ark is about to be destroyed and that Joel has told Rat to escape. Ernie leads the children out of the Ark, just moments before the Ark explodes.
In the aftermath of the mission, Susie and Brian's jet is intercepted and forced to land, at which point the two are arrested. Eve never makes it to the terminal and is assumed drowned at sea. It is discovered that the Ark was destroyed when the explosive charges accidentally detonated; Rat is officially reported as having been killed in the explosion, but as a matter of fact he has survived and is recovering at Amy Collins' home in Townsville along with James, Lauren and Dana. John Jones tells Rat that, as a result of his actions in escaping the Ark, he has been accepted into CHERUB. At a barbecue at Amy's house, John Jones announces that Chloe has been promoted to the rank of mission controller and that Dana's role in the mission has led Mac to award her the navy shirt. Furthermore, as a reward for saving the toddlers from certain death in the Ark, Lauren is awarded the black shirt, much to James' shock. At the end of the novel, Dana teases James about now being outranked by his sister.
* Brian Evans, Susie Regan, Nina Richards and Barry Cox are all arrested. Although expected to stand trial in Australia, they are wanted for questioning in the US, the UK, Hong Kong and Venezuela, and are expected to spend the rest of their lives in prison. Many other members of Help Earth are also arrested, including the chairman of the stockbroking firm and the financial mastermind of Help Earth, Arnos Lomborg. Mike Evans, however, remains at large, and the $400 million stolen by Regan remains untraced.
* Elliot Moss fully recovers from his stab wound. Although the Survivors are bankrupted as a result of their links with Help Earth coming to light, Elliot, his deputy Ween and the rest of the commune manage to raise enough money to purchase the Brisbane commune and form the New Survivor Foundation, while most of the remaining communes worldwide manage to remain open. However, Ernie Craig is forced to leave the Brisbane commune after several confrontations with fellow members over his claims that Rat survived the Ark's destruction. Eve Stannis' family, meanwhile, leave the NSF shortly after Eve's body is found on an Indonesian island.
* Abigail Sanders returns to her real family and begins assisting ASIS in tracing the remaining Help Earth cells and the stolen money.
* Miriam Longford, an expert in cults who helped the cherubs prepare for their mission, obtains brief global fame due to her knowledge on the Survivors before beginning work on a biography of Susie Regan.
* Emily Wildman changes her will to leave 75% to the Australian Red Cross and the remainder to Ronnie, although she remains in reasonable health.
* Rat changes his name to Greg Rathbone, although the cherubs still call him Rat.
* Dana Smith resumes light training after her toe injury.
* James and Lauren return to CHERUB campus.
On page 34, just as Bruce steps down from the vending machine, a scene involving Bruce fighting a punk was edited out of the book because "the editor said that Bruce beating someone up on a train platform was unnecessarily violent." This outtake is viewable on the CHERUB website here.
:"Not partying, Lauren. Partaying."
:"I just wanted to say I love you."
:"Get a room."
:"You snitch-assed motherf-"
:"So that's what three hundred people's crap smells like."
* The exclamation mark at the end of "Help Earth!" has now been dropped.
* Ernie was once mistaken referred to as "Eddie".