Another holiday read was Ordinary Thunderstorms by William Boyd. Adam Kindred, a climatologist who has been working in the United States, arrives in London for a job interview at Imperial College. Within hours a series of events cause him to go into hiding in fear of his life. He then goes from being a respected academic to a hunted man forced to plumb the depths of urban society. In order to remain hidden he becomes a non-person – no phone, no credit cards, no bank account, no identity.
As one would expect from William Boyd, Ordinary Thunderstorms is beautifully written and all the strata of London are laid out before us. We meet tramps, prostitutes, evangelists, illegal immigrants, drug dealers, shady businessmen and contract killers. The story is adeptly presented – Adam Kindred (despite his loss of identity) adapts himself to his new situation and has many ingenious methods of survival – but along the way the reader shares with him his hunger, despair and isolation. As in some Dickens’ novels the city of London and the Thames are central – almost additional characters.
The plot is wonderfully constructed and keeps you gripped to the very end. The characterisations were well observed and believable (although I found the John Christ Church set up a bit far-fetched). A brilliant literary thriller – highly recommended.