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3.8 out of 5 stars
Flight
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 28 April 2014
As a pure thriller, Flight is slow and has a character of looming menace rather than seat-of-the-pants action. But this less is more style allows Thorpe to explore interesting avenues as our middle aged protagonist comes to terms with his failed marriage and career. He led an exciting and lucrative life as freight dog flying in consignments of dodgy goods to war zones with no questions asked. While in hiding on a remote Scotish island he has plenty of time to reflect on what went before and on what really matters to him. This is well written, humorous and thoughtful - my first book by Adam Thorpe but not my last.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Another great read from Adam Thorpe - one of our writers who is worthy of much more appreciation and recognition. His work continues to surprise the reader. Flight is quite different from the other books of his that I have read.

It is best described as a literary thriller. Bob Winrush (not Windrush!!) works as a "freight dog". This is a pilot who takes goods and people round the world on an ad hoc basis - sometimes to places that most of us would avoid. Some of his cargoes in the past did not bear too much scrutiny and he knows that his is not the most ethical of jobs. After walking out in the middle of a particularly dodgy deal he gets work as a pilot to a very rich Dubai prince. But trouble comes calling and it seems his past is catching up with him.....

Bob soon realises that someone is after him. His situation is not helped as he is in the middle of a divorce. With the help of his old buddy McAllister he changes identity and retreats to a Scottish island. But even there he is not safe. Is he being betrayed by McAllister?

Adam Thorpe has created a great main character in Bob - basically a decent guy but with some flaws. He takes a moral stand against transporting drugs but is willing to carry armaments to dubious war zones and even on some occasions armed men taking part in civil wars.

This is not a fast-moving thriller with lots of fighting and shooting. The tension builds up gradually and is suffused throughout with lashings of black humour.

An excellent read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 12 June 2014
I bought the book with high expectations given Thorpe's reputation as a "literary author" but was soon disappointed. The first half of the book seems to be fairly typical clichéd thriller with a central character who's a sexy but world-weary pilot (freight dog) with a slightly dodgy past. But at least the first half of the book moves along. The second half is set in a Scottish bog and not surprisingly the story gets bogged down with much waiting around for something to happen.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 18 January 2014
I have always enjoyed Adam Thorpe's original fiction and was intrigued to see how he would get on with a thriller. A success all round displaying his many skills.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 15 August 2013
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.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERon 2 June 2013
The past is catching up with Bob Winrush. His marriage is over as a result of his inconsiderate arrival home early when weather cancelled one of his jobs as a cargo pilot to find his wife in bed with another man but when an investigative journalist starts to dig into some of the content of Bob's previous cargo trips, his life is quickly placed in grave danger. His problems stemmed from having walked away from a particularly morally dubious trip to transport arms to the Taliban some years ago, although it turns out that his moral line in the sand is somewhat blurred. He has knowingly transported guns and military personnel in his time. He's sort of the aeronautical equivalent of white van man.

Winrush is a familiar character from anyone who has seen Hollywood action movies. He's a tough guy with a soft heart. In fact at one point one character laments that they are not in a movie, which is somewhat ironic as, short of wearing a white vest, he screams Bruce Willis character. In fact it would make a strong action movie - perhaps "Fly Hard"?

Adam Thorpe's style is a cut above many action books though. Certainly it is likely to appeal more to male readers I suspect, but it maintains the suspense and feel of someone being after Winrush without him knowing precisely who this might be. When he finds himself hiding out from persons unknown in the Scottish islands, the tension in particular is tangible. There are admittedly some elements of cliché. He seems to have an endless supply of women falling at his feet, from a good time girl in Dubai to the wife of a fisherman in Scotland. He appears as unselective about his female company as he has been about the content of his plane.

There is though, one element to this book that I did struggle with and it comes in two parts. Firstly, there is a fair amount of what you might call flying jargon. All this is explained in context but it does get rather repetitive and all the flight crews seem unable to speak in anything other than this jargon-heavy way. This gets a little wearing and the problem is exacerbated by the endless use of flight similes and metaphors. Some of these are very good, some darkly funny and clever, but to my mind, Thorpe rather over plays this tool. Fewer would have given the good ones so much more power. As it is, hardly a page goes by without out some aircraft related reference and I felt like screaming `yes, I know he's a pilot'. In fact, I can pin point the exact moment that my mind turned from `this is clever' to `this is annoying now' and it's a rather dubious reference to jump jet aircraft in the context of an intimate encounter that might well challenge for that `bad sex in fiction' award.

That aside though, it's a fast paced, action-packed story that is admirably different from the run of the mill action stories and the murky world of arms and drug smuggling are nicely handled.
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on 23 August 2014
The rewards of this book lie in the quality of the writing and the unfamiliar setting of the outer Hebrides and the locations visited by a freight pilot. The plot proceeds at a leisurely pace. While sense that Bob Winrush the central character has, of not knowing who to trust and struggling to understand what's happening, is well conveyed, no very clear sense of his character comes across. Something of a mixed pleasure to read, for these reasons.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 11 August 2012
Adam Thorpe's new novel, the story of a freight dog who finds himself embroiled in illicit arms and drugs dealing, has the ingredients of a thriller: a tautly woven plot with an element of mystery; well managed suspense and a surprising dénoument. It goes well beyond the level of the average page turner, however, and provides the reader with a finely observed view of the modern world and an insightful exploration of friendship and betrayal. This is a novel of extremes: the murky underworld of arms dealing and drug trafficking is evokedwith chilling realism against a series of highly contrasted backdrops: glittering Dubai, windswept, rain-sodden Scotland and drearily middleclass England somewhere in between the two. The main character, Bob Winrush, is an oddly touching mixture of machism, sensitivity and ineptitude and the dialogue, far from being stilted as one reviewer suggested, strikes one as slick, economical and characteristic of Thorpe's sensitive and imaginative handling of the English language. Altogether a thoroughly enjoyable read.
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on 12 May 2014
I know nothing about being a pilot and felt there was too much reference re planes and flying . Perhaps the title gave the author the idea of pushing the technical stuff whereas the other meaning of the word far more adequately described the meat of the book.
A man in flight from his enemies made a good story once it got going .Well written
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Bob Winrush is a ‘Freight Dog’ – he’s a man in love with risk and will fly anywhere at any time, but then comes the moment when he walks away from a job which doesn’t feel right, something a freight dog should never do. He’s been on the cusp of illegality many times, but this time it sticks and he leaves the flight without a skipper to carry the goods onward.

He’s going through a messy divorce at the time (is there any other kind?) and his inner radar tells him there is something especially wrong about the job. He gets another job working for a Saudi Prince for a while, whose plane has a built-in Jacuzzi, but then comes home to England to sort out his affairs. That’s when he walks in on his wife with another man. Olivia, his wife, wants out of the marriage.

Then, one by one some of the other members of his crew disappear or die in suspicious circumstances and he flees to a Scottish Island and a half-wrecked house leased to him by his long-term friend and crew member, Al McAllister. McAllister meanwhile lives high on the hog in the Virgin Islands. Bob stays in touch with a student journalist who is unravelling some of the nastier weapons deals, including, he discovers, the one he walked away from, which involved a consignment of heroin.

His cover on the island is that he’s studying the black-headed gull and is a harmless ornithologist, but he manages to blow that cover almost immediately. Meanwhile, more members of his old crew seem to be having accidents. He meets a woman on the island, Judith, who is preparing to fight the wind-farm executives who want to build their pylons on the island, but as the pages diminish it looks increasingly unlikely that he will escape the fate of the rest of his crew.

Adam Thorpe is a writer who aims high. His recent books have been groundbreakers – the magnificent 'Hodd' a historical novel giving a distinctive and excoriatingly bleak version of the Robin Hood legend, or the brilliant war story 'Rules of Perspective'. Or, 'No Telling', a story set around the Paris rebellions in the 1960s, told from the perspective of a 14 year-old boy. 'Flight' testifies to his restlessly brilliant range of focus, and the breadth of his literary reach. He is probably the best writer I’ve ever come across.
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