Wednesday, 8 December 2010

A Year in Books 2010 - Ordinary Thunderstorms

I'm writing this when later tonight Channel 4 show part 1 of the 4 part adaptation of the epic William Boyd novel Any Human Heart. This book comes at the end of a run of novels that put William Boyd up there as one of my favourite novelists.

Ordinary Thunderstorms is a million miles away from the Any Human Heart, where one man's life came to represent the swirl of 20th century history, this novel is a relatively straight forward conspiracy thriller. As a result some of the reviews were a bit sniffy when it first came out.

The book starts with a chance encounter as Adam Kindred having just been for an interview stops in a restaurant and gets into a conversation with another lone diner. When left alone Adam notices that the other diner has left behind a briefcase which he decides to return in person. From this simple decision, Adam's life spirals out of control until he is on the run for suspected murder, being tracked by a hitman, sleeping rough and losing everything including his identity.

What follows is a compulsive page turner as it soon becomes apparent that Adam is caught up in big drug industry conspiracy and the book flits between the 3 main players wrapped up in that conspiracy, Adam , a naive company chairman and the vengeful hitman for whom finding Adam becomes an obsession. Along the way each of these 3 comes across the full social scale of the capital's misfits.

I don't read many thrillers so I've no idea how this stacks up, but it sprints along and has enough sharp left turns to keep things interesting. William Boyd is such a good writer that there is some great prose sprinkled through out. If anything it reminds me a bit of Iain Banks' The Business. It is great while you are reading it but unlike his best books doesn't linger long in the mind when you've finished. If you watch Any Human Heart and want to give William Boyd a go then start with that book or the True Confessions , if you want a faced paced thriller give this a go.

You can buy Ordinary Thunderstorms here


  1. I wrote a song a few weeks back called "Any Human Heart' and was very happy with it (esp the title) and then it appears on TV as a mini series...
    The first of many I fear...

  2. Stick with it - people who havent heard of the book will think great title and those that have will listen repeatedly assuming the song is about the book and will listen repeatedly looking for non existent links to the story

    a winner either way

  3. Ay. Except that the song is currently longer than the piggin' book!
    I need to get the (sharp) scissors out...


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