Tuesday, May 17, 2011
Review: Ordinary Thunderstorms
a copy of this book was provided to me by the publisher through TLC Book Tours
A River Runs Through It
Ordinary Thunderstorms begins and ends on the river Thames. Adam Kindred, a climatologist, is in London to interview for a job. He takes a walk along the river, then walks into a restaurant. A chance encounter then hurls Adam out of the life he knew, into a life he must invent as he goes along--always looking over his shoulder. Adam's identity, his assured place in the world, disappears, replaced by a life hidden, lived on the edges of society.
William Boyd has written a swiftly moving, intelligent novel that succeeds on many levels. Ordinary Thunderstorms succeeds at the narrative level: it tells a compelling story. This is a thriller with expert pacing. As Adam is forced to abandon his identity, his name, his credit cards, his history, and all that attaches him to the social fabric of life, he descends into a Dickensian underground, and this is where the novel really succeeds. The denizens of London's underworld: prostitutes, petty criminals, cab drivers, and a lethal, mercenary hit man give Ordinary Thunderstorms a gritty, bleak texture.
The underground London Adam disappears into is contrasted the the sleekly sinister world of corporate corruption. Throw into this mix an attractive police officer from London's Marine Support Unit who lives on the Thames in a converted battleship with her pot-smoking father. Ordinary Thunderstorms seamlessly brings together sharply drawn characters from London's highest social spheres to the invisible sphere at the bottom. Boyd clearly has a love affair with the city of London, and with the river that runs through it, and this intimate journey through the city is what finally had me loving Ordinary Thunderstorms.
If you like intelligent writing, plenty of narrative action, and novels that ask more questions than they answer, you will love Ordinary Thunderstorms.