Book Review: The Flight – M.R. Hall

The Flight
About The Flight (2012)
The FlightWhen Flight 189 plunges into the Severn Estuary, Coroner Jenny Cooper finds herself handling the case of a lone sailor whose boat appears to have been sunk by the stricken plane, and drawn into the mysterious fate of a ten year-old girl, Amy Patterson, a passenger on 189, whose largely unmarked body is washed up alongside his. While a massive and highly secretive operation is launched to recover clues from the wreckage, Jenny begins to ask questions the official investigation doesn’t want answered. How could such a high tech plane – virtually impregnable against human error – fail? What linked the high powered passengers who found themselves on this ill-fated flight? And how did Amy Patterson survive the crash, only to perish hours later? Under pressure from Amy’s grieving mother, and opposed by those at the very highest levels of government, Jenny must race against time to seek the truth behind this terrible disaster, before it can happen again.

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Review: The Flight

I’ve never had a fear of flying and on one holiday I flew ten times in the space of a month without an ounce of anxiety. That said, I haven’t much experience of turbulence which I imagine is pretty frightening. M.R. Hall’s The Flight depicts the tragedy of a plane crash and the mysteries that surround it. This is the fourth in a series of novels featuring coroner Jenny Cooper and would be my first taste of her work.

The novel focuses on Flight 189 which crashes into the Severn Estuary leaving no survivors. Just a terrible tragedy? While initial theories suggest a lightning strike there are further mysteries waiting to be unravelled. 10 year old Amy Patterson is found washed up alongside a sailor whose boat appears to have been hit by the plane. How did Amy survive the crash only to die in the water? Why was she found by the side of the sailor? How did such a prestigious plane fail at the cost of so many innocent lives? While Jenny Cooper is assigned to investigate the death of the sailor, she becomes drawn into the mystery of Flight 189 but in getting closer to the truth she discovers there are some people who do not want answers to emerge.

The novel opens quickly with the terrible plane crash. Amy Patterson is due to fly back to America with her father but he has to remain in London due to his work. When Amy is killed along with the rest of the passengers, her father Greg Patterson is distraught but not as much as Amy’s mother, Michelle Patterson, who flies to the UK demanding answers. While Sir James Kendall leads the investigation into the plane crash, Mrs Patterson turns to Jenny to help find the answers to her daughter’s death. Not only is Jenny moved by the grieving Pattersons but Mrs Patterson has some intriguing theories about why the plane came down. It turns out that some passengers were moved from an earlier flight to the ill-fated Flight 189 and as Jenny digs deeper it begins to seem like more than just a coincidence.

Pressured by Mrs Patterson, Jenny strays outside the law in her pursuit of the truth and is helped along the way by her conflictive assistant, Alison, and a former RAF pilot Michael Sherman. Michael’s ex Nuala Casey is one of the victims on Flight 189 and as the novel develops it seems that a one word text she sent to Michael before the plane crashed may be a key clue to unravelling the mystery of the crash. Conversations with witnesses yield further clues as Jenny digs deeper and as you follow the story you’ll not be able to resist speculating as to what happens. You’ll have to wait till the very end, of course, to learn the truth.

I enjoyed The Flight. Jenny Cooper wasn’t the strongest leading character I have encountered but she made for a good heroine and was well supported by the other characters. There is a bit of technical description in here which may go over your head, it certainly did mine, but I didn’t feel it undermined the narrative. The conclusion was very apt, not necessarily a wonderfully happy ending but we do get answers to the mystery and it’s worth the wait.

The Flight is an enjoyable and intriguing thriller. There is some technical detail in there but it shouldn’t impact too heavily on your enjoyment of the book. This is Jenny Cooper’s fourth outing and I wouldn’t be opposed to reading more about her.

Verdict: 4/5

(Book source: reviewer received a copy in exchange for a fair and honest review)

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Dave Brown

I was born in Barnsley, South Yorkshire, England and have always been a bookworm and enjoyed creative writing at school. In 1999 I created the Elencheran Chronicles and have been writing ever since. My first novel, Fezariu's Epiphany, was published in May 2011. When not writing I'm a lover of films, games, books and blogging. I live in Barnsley, with my wife, Donna, and our six cats - Kain, Razz, Buggles, Charlie, Bilbo and Frodo.
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  1. Love this novel and love the protagonist. Where do you think the powerful female protagonist originated? I'm young so I can't go back that far but in terms of creative content I would say Maria from Metropolis. Anyone agree?

    1. Hi Dylan,

      Thanks for commenting. It was a good novel.

      I suppose tough female protagonists go back really far such as Moll Flanders or Elizabeth Bennett in Pride & Prejudice. They're some of the earliest ones I can think of.

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