By William Boyd
Harper, Hardcover, 9780061876745, 416pp.
Publication Date: February 1, 2010
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 everythinghome, family, friends, job, reputation, passport, credit cards, cell phonenever 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 downunderground. He decides to join that vast army of the disappeared and the missing who throng Londons 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 denizensaristocrats, prostitutes, evangelists, and policewomenand 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.
“Boyd has constructed a narrative machine of hilarious, near-impossible intricacy for the purpose of demonstrating that identity is fragile and that instinct, for better or worse, is not. . . . He is a debonair, versatile, casually philosophical literary entertainer—clever and thoughtful.”
-The New York Times Book Review
“Boyd is highly adept at doing what novelists do best: exploring the multifarious possibilities implicit in human life.”
-The Los Angeles Times
“Charles Dickens lurks in the shadows of William Boyd’s gripping new novel, Ordinary Thunderstorms, which . . . has a Dickensian cast of characters—predators and prey, tycoons and paupers, charlatans and stooges—orbiting one another in the mean streets of London.”
-The Wall Street Journal
“William Boyd delivers a multiplot thriller full of twists and turns in Ordinary Thunderstorms.”
“A thrilling story.”
-The Daily Beast
“Impressive. . . . Rich and engaging. . . . Boyd creates the rich spectrum of London with arresting cinematic detail. . . . Boyd gives a harrowing sense of how close and yet how distant the nether life of a large city is.”
-Ron Charles, The Washington Post