Thanks once more to Carl Brookins for sharing another review with us here.
Fly By Wire
by Ward Larsen
Hard Cover, 301 pgs.,
Published by Oceanview Press, 2010
An unusual and fresh plot device blends world finance, international espionage, religious zealotry and cutting edge aviation technology in a fine and mostly fast-paced thriller. It is clear that the author knows intimately the setting of his story, aviation accident investigation.
A new design, a flying wing cargo plane, has crashed in France and a former Air Force pilot, now working as an accident investigator for the National Transportation Safety Board, is sent to the crash site as liaison. His name is Jammer Davis and he’s something of a hot-shot loose cannon. Think the macho pilots in the movie “Top Gun,” and you get the idea.
Davis’s life is complicated by the presence of his teen-aged daughter-and her dating difficulties-Davis is a widower. It’s a nice touch, and while Davis is in France struggling to figure out a series of odd circumstances around the plane crash, his daughter occasionally calls him on his cell, disturbing and altering the rhythm of the plot. The story line is also interrupted from time to time by the machinations of the evil cabal behind the plot, which serves to ramp up the tension.
The author is careful to dole out intriguing information in tantalizing dollops which maintains reader interest. That’s a good thing, because there are several sections of fairly technical information which are necessary to explain the plot, but occasionally are too long for my taste.
The major flaw in the novel is the somewhat old fashioned macho attitude expressed by the narrative in several places. There is, at times, a sense we are living once again in a simpler time when there was a perception that men and women had their defined roles with lines between those roles to be crossed at considerable personal risk. It was also a time when enemies of the nation were always summarily dealt with. Moral ambiguities and our system of legal niceties were almost as much obstacles to getting the right thing done, as protection of the rights of everyone.
With these caveats, I found “Fly By Wire,: to be a rousing patriotic story that moves along at a decent pace to an eminently satisfying conclusion. I particularly like the domestic surprise at the end.