By Dana Haynes
|Value for money
|Did it do what it said on the box?
Ripping Yarn, but Dodgy Details
This is a good thriller, set in the world of air crash investigation, which makes a very welcome change from the all too formulaic patterns of most current escapist literature. Choosing reading matter for my last holiday I really couldn’t face another “serial killer” or “ancient secret / modern conspiracy” tale, and this caught my imagination.
The story romps along with a pace and complexity reminiscent of “24”, and I mean that as a great compliment. It’s enjoyable, and you won’t want to put it down.
But…, and it’s a big but, you may also find this book a bit frustrating. Too many of the details are clumsy, or just plain wrong.
For example, one of the characters is supposed to be a Mancunian ex-DCI, but instead of making him sound like Gene Hunt the author has him tacking “innit” on every sentence, like the dimmest illiterate London hoody. Worse, the author thinks that DCI stands for Deputy Chief Inspector! Elsewhere the villain uses Apple Mac control sequences to initiate events, but on a laptop which is variously described as “homemade” and an IBM T43.
And is it really credible that a top air crash investigation team would be taken in by fake flight data records inconsistent with all their other findings, and take almost a day to start trying to cross-check them?
The book also suffers from the increasingly common American fiction malady of stereotypical good guys and bad guys. The former are a politically correct cross section of races, ages and sexes, but all portrayed as handsome, wholesome and beyond reproach. The villains are a bunch of Ulster thugs, the one gay guy, and an overweight, bespectacled computer nerd called Dennis. That’s so, well, Jurassic Park!
This is still a good yarn, but more focus on the details and more rounded characters would have made it a better one.