Monday, July 30, 2012
Jonathan Cape, 2012
Pilot Bob Winrush returnes home after the flight and finds his wife, Olivia, is engaged in tantric sex with her masseur. Bob grabs his gun and almost kills a man, shooting into the air.
After that incident, a family man Bob divorces his wife and moves into his apartment. Winrush (his name is often mistakenly pronounced as Windrush) is a pilot, freight dog. He once was a captain on passenger flights (when he met his wife, she was a flight attendant), and then switched to cargo flights. He flied with dangerous goods in all over the world, and its cargo, too, was hardly safe. On airplanes he was carrying napalm, AK-47s, ammunition, serving shady customers. He and his team, as a rule, received money in brown envelopes on arrival. He always carried a golden rule of freight flights - to ask no questions. But about two years before the described events, Bob gave up a job and went out of the deal, flying only halfway. He never cooperated with the Taliban, suspected something was wrong and refused. Walking out of a deal, too, is not tolerated in this business. Bob has received several threats after that, but that was it.
Now Bob is working as a private pilot for an Emirate sheikh, lives in Dubai, often meets with local woman named Leila. Then someone just startes digging in the two-year business, Sheikh is asked questions about Bob, and Sheikh fires the pilot, when they are steamed in a sauna in the tail of an airplane. When he gets home, Bob notices that someone was in his apartment. His captain's logs of flights are missing. Bob remembers the day of the flight, his team. Bob decides to return to the UK and books a plane ticket. The next day, Bob is contacted by Israeli journalist Sharansky, who is investigating the transport of weapons. Winrush first refuses but then agrees to a meeting, when Sharansky threatens to mention his name in a forthcoming article.
«Flight» is probably what can be called a perfect blend of thriller and "mainstream novel". The book is sufficiently entertaining, keeps suspense until the last page, makes turning the pages, but at the same time making us feel the atmosphere, enjoy the unique style, assess the language game.
In the novel, the profession of the protagonist is a pilot, freight dog, as he calls himself. Thorpe weaves amazingly the protagonist’s profession in the style of the book. There are many curious puns, metaphors, comparisons, related to the air, aircraft cabin, jets, wings, etc. Thorpe felt his character, made him a truly authentic and alive. Bob thinks like a pilot, talks like a pilot. Besides, Thorpe has real gift to write fresh and original dialogue. It really is talk of living people, especially when Bob and Al (Bob’s mechanic) are talking.
What else is saying about the skill of the author, is the balance of the book. The first part is in fact a continuous action, intrigue, danger and deaths. The second half is the exact opposite: waiting, boredom, anxiety, loneliness. But both parts of the book are identical in quality. He did not blunder. Where he writes a thriller, it's really a thriller, with its heavily twisted plot, espionage, and authentic moments. Not every mystery writer can tell a good tough story. The second part, devoid of the first brick-busting action, is interesting in its own way. This is quite a separate genre - a hero waiting for someone who wants him killed. He is essentially helpless. Those who want to kill him have the resources, they are professionals. If they want to do it, they will. Therefore, Bob can only wait and try to be alert but he needs to answer the question, who wants him dead.
Thorpe captures the hero's anxiety in his style, the changes in it. That who had flown now walks with a low hugging the ground. The hero is changing, is aware of his mistakes from the past, to somehow communicate with the flight he begins to investigate the birds. First, just for the cover, but later he’s hooked.
«Flight» is story about responsibility, vocation, friendship, and delusions. It’s a deep and live novel.