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Customer Review

1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A thriller, lacking the subtelties of his earlier novels., 26 May 2013
This review is from: Flight (Paperback)
Bob Winrush used to be the pilot of freight planes. On one occasion, he had been engaged to fly from Bulgaria to Istanbul with a cargo labelled "Medical". At the airport, he discovered by accident that the cargo actually contained AK 47 assault rifles, and that he was expected to fly the plane on to Turkmenistan, where presumably they would be collected by the Taliban. Turning down an enormous bribe, he declined to do so, escaped from some heavies, and was able to leave Istanbul for Dubai, where for the next two years he flew the private planes of a wealthy sheikh.

At the end of the two years he was tracked down by, on the one hand, a left-wing Israeli journalist specializing on exposing illicit arms trading (against which an organization in which Ben's son was an activist was also campaigning) and, on the other, by the agents an Israeli arms dealer. Bob's discovery and his refusal of a bribe made him a man "who knows too much" (though at the time you could say that he knew too little). He was, very forcibly, advised by the agents to leave the Middle East and go "a real long way away". He took their advice, and returned to Britain (and a divorce) - but the rest of the book shows that the journalist and the arms dealer's agents were still after him. (One wonders why the latter had not killed him in Dubai.) People with whom Bob had worked were murdered. After escaping an attempt on his own life, he decided to go to ground, under a new name, renting a run-down croft in the most isolated spot possible, a small desolate, gale-battered, rain-drenched island in the Outer Hebrides. Even there he didn't feel safe. And he was right - though in the end the danger came from a (doubly) unexpected quarter.

Quite effective story-telling, if, to my mind, too drawn out. Lots of references, both specific and metaphorical, to the problems of handling planes in dodgy weather or on dodgy landing strips. Fine descriptions of the different locales - Dubai, the Home Counties, the Outer Hebrides. A lot of laconic wise-cracking all round, in the dialogue and in the thoughts passing through Bob's mind - occasionally so laconic that it lost me, increasingly so towards the end of the book when that style invades the narrative.

Thorpe is a very versatile writer. This is the third book of his I have read, and they are all utterly different in plot and tone from each other. See my reviews of "Between Each Breath" and "The Rules of Perspective". I think these have subtler characterization than this novel and a far more sophisticated and interesting story.
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Location: London United Kingdom

Top Reviewer Ranking: 221