All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

Review: Flight Risk by Michael McGuire

on January 9, 2019

Flight Risk
Michael McGuire
Allen & Unwin
2018, 294p
Copy courtesy of the publisher

Blurb {from the publisher/}:

Disgraced former pilot Ted Anderson works for a top-secret government organisation set up to investigate terror-related incidents. Sent to Jakarta to find out as much as he can about the pilot of a vanished Garuda flight, he discovers a flight simulator in the pilot’s apartment.

When the investigation turns sour, Ted escapes to New York as further disaster strikes.

Another plane disappears from the sky. Then another. Three planes and hundreds of passengers and crew, vanished, without a trace. Panic is widespread and the world is teetering on the brink.

Still no one has come forward to claim responsibility.

At an eerily deserted JFK airport trying to get a flight back home, Ted witnesses a suspicious exchange between an airport cleaner and a nonchalant airline pilot. He follows the pilot to his destination: a Ukraine International Airlines flight, due to leave in an hour.

All his instincts tell Ted that this is the next plane to go down. But what on earth can he do? Take the flight and face almost certain death? Or fly back home and wait for the news headlines?

He does the unthinkable and gets on the plane.

This book was inspired by the mystery that is the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight 370, which was flying from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing in 2014 when it abruptly vanished from radar. It’s a story that has gripped me for almost five years – how on earth could, in this day and age, a Boeing 777 just disappear? With radars and trackers and satellites and whatever else, how could it just vanish? There have been so many theories regarding MH370 – it was hijacked and crashed. It was hijacked but flown to somewhere remote – Kazakhstan, Diego Garcia, Africa. There was an explosive decompression which killed or incapacitated the crew and passengers as they were making a turn to return to Kuala Lumpur and then the plane just flew on autopilot until it ran out of fuel. Or suicide by pilot in an act of deliberation in a remote area of the Indian Ocean somewhere between the west coast of Australia and Africa. It’s a large expanse of ocean, full of deep trenches, much of which is unmapped. There have been numerous attempts to find a wreckage of MH370 with no success from deep sea vessels. This article published a couple of days ago suggests that a piece of wreckage found off Madagascar is likely from MH370 and has been confirmed by Malaysia Airlines. So it’s out there somewhere. 

In Flight Risk, Ted Anderson is a former pilot who works as a government investigator, flying very much under the radar. The first plane disappears and Ted is deployed to Western Australia to check it out. The powers that be want to believe it’s just an accident or an isolated incident but then a second flight vanishes. And then a third. And Ted is suddenly right in the thick of a mystery that threatens to ground every flight in the world until it can be discovered just what is happening to these planes and why. Ordered to return to Australia, Ted is at JFK when he witnesses an unusual interaction. He could leave it, return home in disgrace and take his punishment. If he boards the plane he suspects will be the next vanished flight, he will most likely die…..but he boards the plane anyway.

There’s a lot of…..machismo in this book, which is to be expected I suppose. Ted spends a lot of the first part of the book in the air. He flies to northern Western Australia to investigate the first disappearance, then to Perth in order to head to Indonesia to further investigate, starting with the pilots of the plane that vanishes first. There he runs into a counterpart from America and the two of them have a sort of loose alliance/rivalry as they search for information on the pilot. To be honest, the only thing they don’t do is each whip it out and measure it. Both of them believe that something much more sinister is at foot than just a plane that malfunctioned and it seems that there’s others they need to convince of that, a job that gets a bit more easier when the second plane vanishes. Despite Ted’s gut screaming at him that there’s something going on, his boss doesn’t really seem to want to hear his thoughts, ordering him home after he hitches a ride with the American back to the USA. I guess luckily, Ted kinda does what he wants, not what his boss tells him to.

On one hand, I loved the set up for this – MH370 is a great basis for a story and it’s real. I also liked the direction that the author took the story in, with it not being the only plane and there being more and it all being connected. But I have to admit, I was kind of disappointed in the perpetrators, or the person pulling the strings because it just seemed like of all the choices…..  Yes, it’s a problem that the world is facing but at the same time, it’s beat up and demonised and basically blamed for every little thing that I think I would’ve appreciated a fresh take on the ‘evil’ – something new and unexpected and different. I think that the author tried a little bit of a twist but it wasn’t really much of one, for me. It seems to play in to everything Ted already thinks and doesn’t really get him to challenge his beliefs or force him to examine his prejudices and it just seemed……too easy. Like there’s one demon in the world at the moment and only the exploitation of that could be responsible for such a thing. I found Ted a bit of a cliche but I did appreciate his regret over his treatment of his wife and daughter and his determination to fix what he can after things go awry investigating the vanishing planes. I don’t know if this is a series? There’s some closure and direction for the future in a way for Ted but in terms of the orchestration of this event, there’s definitely some loose ends.

This was fast paced and quite a thrill ride – I think it would probably make a great big budget action flick. Like most books of this variety it involves the reader suspending their disbelief a lot and how much you can do that will shape your liking of the book. For me, it was the way I felt about the answer to the question of what happened to the planes. I didn’t mind the stunts and Ted’s previous training as a pilot came in handy but I wanted a bit more behind the reasoning.


Book #2 of 2019



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