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`You've got that look about you, Mrs Cooper - a woman on a mission.'
on 1 February 2012
Some people love flying and enjoy the thrill of it all, some can take it or leave it, and for others, myself included, it's all too easy to think about how you are thousands of feet up in the air inside a metal tube that didn't ought to stay there really as far as you can tell! Being a nervous air passenger myself with a tendency to grip the armrests, or the hand of the person next to me (usually only if I know them already) rather tightly, and having read the synopsis of this novel, it was with not a little trepidation that I began reading...
`The Flight' is the fourth novel in the `Jenny Cooper' series written by M. R. Hall. We first met Jenny in `The Coroner', as she arrived to take up her position as the new coroner for the Severn Vale district. Now established in her role, and having taken on and shaken up a good few people in the establishment as well as others along the way, she is back again to tackle the fall-out from a major incident that occurs just outside her patch.
Flight 189 from Heathrow, and destined for JFK, plunges into the Severn Estuary, and the body of one of the passengers, a little ten-year-old girl named Amy Patterson, together with that of a sailor, are both washed ashore in Jenny's district. As a senior official coroner is appointed to deal with the deaths of all the hundreds on board the flight, Jenny must determine the cause of death of the sailor, whose boat seems to have been sunk as the plane hit. However, as she tries to find answers to all the questions that are raised, she finds that doors are closed and lips are sealed due to the extremely secretive nature of the main investigation into the plane crash. But how could the crash have happened, with the highly sophisticated computerised systems now employed on such a plane leaving virtually no room for error by the pilot or his officer? Was this an horrendous accident, or is there some deeper conspiracy here? And is there a link between some of the passengers who were on flight 189?
Jenny is still haunted by the memories she has uncovered from her childhood, and the responsibility she feels is what drives her in this case to want to know, on behalf of `the hapless dead, the innocents', what caused their deaths. The somewhat turbulent working relationship between Jenny and her officer, Alison, is continued in this story, and there is once again a compelling and convincing inquest. This is a complex, intricate multi-layered story, with an investigation that explores a frightening possibility. The author has evidently done much research into modern air transport. Jenny finds herself once again in an almost impossible situation as she takes on the might of the establishment. It's difficult to comment much more without revealing the twists and turns of the story, which I don't want to do here, as the thrill and enjoyment is in discovering them as you read the novel. Suffice it to say the tension builds dramatically towards the nail-biting climax of the story.
I must admit that I am already a fan of this series of novels, and I think Jenny is a super character. Right from meeting her in the first novel, I liked the fact that she has her own difficult personal issues to overcome, and that sometimes these interrupt and interfere with her work. She is intelligent and quick, but flawed, and very human, haunted by certain events in her past and trying to cope in the face of anxiety and panic attacks, and yet she is determined to do a proper job at all times, to fight doggedly for the truth and to keep pushing people to the limits to get answers, whoever she comes up against, and I like her for all these reasons. This is another dramatic, intriguing instalment in the Jenny Cooper series. Looking forward to number 5 already.
As for holidays, well, we'll hop in the car and stick to the UK this year... '