One May evening in London, Adam Kindred, a young climatologist in town for a job interview, is feeling good about the future as he sits down for a meal at a little Italian bistro. He strikes up a conversation with a solitary diner at the next table, who leaves soon afterward. With horrifying speed, this chance encounter leads to a series of malign accidents, through which Adam loses everything—home, family, friends, job, reputation, passport, credit cards, cell phone—never to get them back.
The police are searching for him. There is a reward for his capture. A hired killer is stalking him. He is alone and anonymous in a huge, pitiless modern city. Adam has nowhere to go but down—underground. He decides to join that vast army of the disappeared and the missing who throng London’s lowest levels as he tries to figure out what to do with his life and struggles to understand the forces that have made it unravel so spectacularly. Adam’s quest will take him all along the river Thames, from affluent Chelsea to the gritty East End, and on the way he will encounter all manner of London’s denizens—aristocrats, prostitutes, evangelists, and policewomen—and version after new version of himself.
Ordinary Thunderstorms, William Boyd’s electric follow-up to his award-winning Restless, is a profound and gripping novel about the fragility of social identity, the corruption at the heart of big business, and the secrets that lie hidden in the filthy underbelly of every city.
©2010 William Boyd (P)2010 HarperCollins Publishers
This was a terrific read, the writing superb. The characters were detailed and defined, with the city of London and the Thames River a primary player. The details were well documented and the nuanced narrative kept me interested at the expense of other tasks and projects, as I have heard said by other audible.com reviewers talking about other audible books. I think it's this kind of development of minutiae that sustains my attention and separates the excellent novels from the mediocre.
The ending is a giant "maybe" however, and makes the reader want to invent alternate endings, like on some DVDs. As a reader I am not that invested in how a book ends, as I am more interested in character development and the individual experiences of the major figures in a novel. I just don't like abrupt stoppage, and this ending has that "cut off" quality, as though the editors thought the original manuscript was too long.
There were a lot of occasions for suspension of disbelief - in order for the protagonist to accomplish his objectives there had to be certain conditions in place, i.e. (and I don't want to spoil) he needed to be pretty seriously unattached. But novels are part literature and part entertainment, amongst other things, and this one certainly achieves both qualities. I really wanted to keep a notebook with me so that I could record some of the author's phrases which were so articulate, mellifluous, and compelling.
Proud owner of over 1500 downloaded audiobooks (fanatic?, addict? you decide :-)
I highly recommend this book - it was thrilling and well written. I have listened to at least two hundred audio books. My favorite audio book download ever is "Restless" by William Boyd. The books have different narrators and they're both excellent. I read a previous review of this book and I have to disagree that things were left hanging. I think Boyd did a very clever and realistic job of wrapping the plot pieces up.
I wish Audible would get "Brazzaville Beach" by this author.
After the Stephen King endorsement in EW I had high hopes for Ordinary Thunderstorms. But this book left me wanting more. The story had legs, but the plot was a bit predictable, and the focus was the journey the characters took, not any sort of resolution. At the end of the book, I was left feeling like the hours I had spent investing in it weren't worth my time.
This is a very well written novel. I enjoyed learning about the characters and following the story. I did have a problem with the ending. Unlike Stieg Larsson's Millennium Trilogy, virtually every plot twist is left unresolved at the conclusion of the book. Stieg Larsson resolved the plot issues for each book; although, there were still larger problems that could be addressed in a sequel. I never felt he had simply set me up to buy another book.
Mr. Boyd, while an excellent author, left me feeling disappointed.
I love books!
Chose this book entirely because I'd listened to "Restless" by William Boyd. Wasn't sure what to expect, some of the reviews were pretty bland. But, I thoroughly enjoyed the story. The author is very creative. Set in London, a murder mystery, it grew on me as it progressed. I found myself wanting to get back to the book to find out what had happened, always a good sign. I recommend it.
Why waste 10 or so hours building plot lines and suspense just to leave us with a lame love story. Character after character are introduced, and plot lines are painstakingly built to a crescendo, only to lead us to a boring semi-conclusion. The book ended and I yelled, "You've got to be kidding". Boyd's "Restless" was tremendous and made me hungry for another book by this gifted author. If you loved "Restless", stop there. I warn you.
Tell us about yourself!
Its hard not to compare with his other books...Restless was amazing. This story was well told, mostly compelling characters, however our hero made some unbelievable decisions in order to get into the mess around which the story evolves. And all his lies...to everyone. Wish the ending was more conclusive...it could have played out in so many interesting ways.
This was my second book by this author. The story was very different from Restless which I really liked. While I would have liked another book similar to Restless, I liked this book. It's not as strong a story as Restless but well written. I would recommend this book.
I was so enchanted by Boyd's
I decided to make this my second Boyd novel partly because I really enjoyed the first (Restless) and partly because this one seems to polarize people into two camps; liked it and hated it. I didn’t see many reviews claiming to love it though, so maybe I was better forewarned than I thought. Although I did find it interesting and finished it without too much effort, it lacks focus and has a lot of people doing stupid things. Maybe it’s in the water, but no one seemed to act rationally. Maybe that’s the experimental piece of what Boyd seemed to be doing with this book; to write a thriller full of people doing the unexpected. Sort of an anti-thriller; the thriller that didn’t thrill.
Not only does Adam do dumb stuff, but so does the supporting cast; Rita, Ingram and Jonjo. Each in their own ways of course, but their actions don’t follow what we’ve come to think of as normal for this type of book. Does it succeed? I don’t know. As a meandering story of what if, yes it does. What if a guy stumbled into a murder and became the chief suspect, would he run far away or hide in a vacant piece of land a few miles from the kill site and become a bum? Would a by-the-book cop jump into a relationship with a man far below her social station who appears to have been dropped into his current life straight from the moon? Would a killer-for-hire hold such a grudge against a person who doesn’t matter anymore? Would a powerful corporate executive spend so much time deciding what to drink, whether or not to wear underwear and with hookers instead of controlling his company, employees and board members? It’s as if Boyd made a bet with someone that he couldn’t sell a book with people making such weird decisions. I guess the joke’s on us.
That said, I didn’t hate it. I actually enjoyed Adam’s moral flaying. I enjoyed seeing how low he could go, from taking advantage of a relatively stupid single mother, adopting another person’s newly acquired persona, to stealing a blind man’s cane and pretending to be blind, to murdering his blackmailer. Maybe those last two should be in reverse order. Even as Adam acknowledges the slimy, lowness of his deeds he goes through with each of them without a qualm. Like the sexual encounter that ended his marriage, he seems to do these things accidentally on-purpose and it spoke to my inner voyeur.
The tracks involving the other characters were less interesting. Rita being the least among them. I never really ‘got’ her. She seemed like a bimbo add on, but those aren’t popular so was changed into a career girl and a cop. Ah that will make the PC Police back down. Eh. Then Jonjo (what a name, btw…Jonjo…really? I’m supposed to be scared of him?) just seemed cobbled together out of what a professional thug is supposed to be. The dog was an interesting touch, but seemed quirky for quirkiness’s sake. Ingram was the biggest oddity of them all; a CEO with no balls, power, drive or ego. He wasn’t a type A at all and to be the head of a biggish company like he was, you have to have those. I did like Mhouse though in a strange way, and was sad at her ending. The way Boyd moved them all around each other was good; I liked the serendipity of a lot of it. But as characters they left me sort of disconnected. I will read others from Boyd though.
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