Published by: Simon & Schuster
Date released: 10/06/2021
Date read: 08/06/2021 (pre-publication copy)
You just boarded a flight to New York. There are one hundred and forty-three other passengers onboard.
What you don’t know is that thirty minutes before the flight your pilot’s family was kidnapped.
For his family to live, everyone on your plane must die. The only way the family will survive is if the pilot follows his orders and crashes the plane.
Enjoy the flight.
Holy shit! What do I say about this?
Normally when I pre-order a novel, it’s because I’ve read that author before and know I enjoy their writing, or I want to add to a collection of that author’s work. Being T.J Newman’s debut novel, obviously this wasn’t the case this time. But when I was trawling through the Waterstones website earlier in the year, something stood out for me. Was it the cover, the premise, the reviews, the author background? Who knows. But something told me to order it, so I did. I then did some Googling and it turned out this book earned Newman a 7-figure advance, which is something even the most well-known authors can only dream of. That’s a lot of money for an unknown author, but it was so totally worth it.
It arrived yesterday and I devoured it from cover to cover before the day was out. One of the reviews on the back cover says, “this is Jaws sat 35,000 feet”. That sounded weird but now I totally got it. It’s fast-paced and exhilarating and exciting, with twists and turns and red herrings round every corner, and I could practically hear the “dun dun…dun dun…dun dun dun dunnnnnnn” of that shark from 46 years ago (46!!)
This novel focusses on long-term pilot Bill Hoffman, who on a late-notice flight is informed that his wife, his 10-year-old son and 10-month-old daughter have been taken hostage and placed in suicide vests, and the only way to ensure their survival is to crash the plane currently holding 149 souls (144 passengers and 5 crew). With an insider terrorist already on board the plane, Bill and his colleagues Jo, Big Daddy and Kellie, along with resources on the ground, have to keep the situation under control, hopefully without having to choose between the lives of 3 loved-ones, and the lives of 149 strangers.
I never used to be a thriller fan, not in books or movies, but when I look back at what I’ve read recently they tend to be the stand-out ones. Maybe I just hadn’t found the good ones to read, but they’re all coming out now and finding their way into my bookshelf.
You can tell Newman used to work on aircrafts as her insider knowledge of how planes work is so detailed, you can put yourself in the plane and in the middle of the action. The humanity and the emotions she has written in the characters – the goodies and the baddies – you can really feel for them all. Okay, you might not agree with the murder of 149 innocent souls, but you can understand their reasoning. And you can understand Bill’s awful predicament. What wouldn’t we do to save our family? Can you really sacrifice 149 innocent lives over 3, just because they’re strangers?
Thankfully, aerial terrorism is becoming rarer and rarer, especially since 9/11, but this book shows just how frightening an incident in what is effectively a sealed tin can 35,000 feet in the air (sorry for all those already nervous about flying) would be like.
This is a heart pounding, heart stopping, intense, edge-of-your seat thriller, that you just can’t put away until you’ve found out the end. Anyone who can close it and carry on another day has a strength of willpower I just don’t have. If this is her debut novel, I can’t wait to see what else she brings out.