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.
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.
William Boyd is an amazing story teller. I found "Restless" a few months ago and read it on my Kindle. I wondered why I had never really run into Mr. Boyd in my reading travels. I tried a sample of "Ordinary Thunderstorms," but because of my crazy schedule (I run a part time art craft business in addition to working full time) I could not carve out time to read this on the Kindle. I hesitated downloading this Audible addition because the overall rating was only 3.6 stars, and so I vacillated for several months. All I can say is DON'T HESITATE.
This is so well plotted and cleverly told. It is a great suspense novel. It is not formulaic. I also enjoyed it because while it does include some violent illusions, it is not overbearing or gratuitous, the plot moves along swiftly and neatly, almost like a puzzle falling into place. It is also, as other reviewers have pointed out, a fascinating study on the nature of identity. The characters are all fleshed out and Mr. Boyd had imbued all of the primary characters, even the bad guys, with sympathetic human features, no one is a cardboard cutout.
I disagree with those who feel the ending is abrupt. This book allows the reader to savor the experience and continue to think about the possibilities. I highly recommend this book - I will now download Restless and his other offerings. I hope Audible will record all of his books!
The narrator was superb! His voice was perfect and his character delineation is subtle and never overbearing or grating. All in all - a fantastic use of a credit and perfect Audible experience!
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.
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.
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.
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.
Audiobooks have literally changed my life. I now actually ENJOY doing mindless chores because they give me plenty of listening time!
Very much enjoyed this novel, about a man who is forced to give up his identity and go underground when he witnesses a murder and himself becomes the next target for the killer. A pharma company is about to launch a new cure for asthma, but something is amiss—might they go as far as murder to cover up their tracks? An interesting exploration of the underbelly of London, where the dispossessed and nameless manage to eke out a living. I became a fan of Boyd after my first book by him; he did not disappoint this time either and delivers an interesting suspense filled with intriguing characters.
Will look for more books narrated by Gideon Emery, who delivers a flawless performance.
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