Review

Ordinary Thunderstorms

by William Boyd

Climatologist Adam Kindred has just finished an interview at
Imperial College. It went very well, and he knows it. As he walks
alongside the Thames, almost heady with the success within his
grasp, a taste for Italian food suddenly comes over him. Surely
that can’t be too hard to find. “He crosses the
road, having no idea how his life is about to change in the next
few hours --- massively, irrevocably --- no idea at
all.”

The restaurant is excellent, and as he savors his scaloppine al
vitello, he nods to a man seated nearby, also eating alone. They
exchange polite greetings and a short, innocuous conversation
ensues. But after the other man leaves, Adam realizes that he left
behind a file. Fortunately, it has a name --- Dr. Philip Wang ---
and an address on it. Did this fellow Wang do it on purpose? Could
he maybe be trying to set up some lurid tryst? Adam pushes these
thoughts aside and walks the file over to the address. And
that’s when everything goes horribly wrong.

Just when Adam thought he was about to celebrate a new,
lucrative position, instead he finds himself running from the law.
Panicked, he holes up for the night, thinking some sane resolution
will occur to him shortly. By morning, there is a
“wanted” notice in the newspaper, with an impressive
reward for his capture. He actually considers turning himself in;
he even goes to the police station. In the end, he loses his nerve
and decides to lay low and wait for the cops to find the right man.
In the meantime, however, he discovers that it’s not just the
police looking for him. He’s caught between the proverbial
rock and hard place, for if the police find him, he’ll surely
go to jail for a long time. But if the freelancer gets to him
first, Adam will likely never make it to jail --- or anywhere else,
for that matter.

In desperation, Adam tears open the file. If only he could
understand what it is that he holds in his hands, maybe he’d
be able to make sense of the situation. The only information that
he finds useful is that Dr. Wang worked for a big pharmaceutical
company, Calenture-Deutz. In fact, he seemed to be the head
researcher in a very exciting battery of tests that may clear the
way for a new wonder drug. The potential for enormous wealth is
clear, and Adam knows how little value his life would have if he
were to come between Calenture-Deutz and the promise of such
unimaginably huge profits.

With a little over 118 pounds Sterling in his pocket, Adam
becomes highly resourceful. He spends his money wisely, and finds a
quiet place to tuck in and hide while the cops sort it all out. But
the investigation doesn’t go quite as he hoped, and the days
stretch into weeks, and then into months. Adam follows where fate
takes him, which leads him into grave danger.

Eventually, it becomes apparent to Adam that he must somehow
intervene in Calenture-Deutz’s plans, for they seem to be the
key to the predicament he finds himself in. If he has any hope of
regaining his old life, he must strike back and soon. Time is of
the essence.

There’s a lot going on in ORDINARY THUNDERSTORMS, some of
it a bit far-fetched, but all of it entertaining to say the least.
It’s a clever new twist on an old scenario. You can’t
help but find yourself wondering, “What would I do if this
were to happen to me?”

Reviewed by Kate Ayers on January 13, 2011

Ordinary Thunderstorms
by William Boyd

  • Publication Date: February 1, 2010
  • Genres: Fiction, Thriller
  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Harper
  • ISBN-10: 0061876747
  • ISBN-13: 9780061876745