It’s very weird to read two similar books in close succession. Obviously it’s not the fault of either author, both of whom have invested significant time and energy in their story ideas.
Falling by TJ Newman is an excellent thriller featuring a pilot whose family (back home) is held hostage; the captors threatening to kill them if he doesn’t purposely crash his plane, killing everyone onboard.
Clare Mackintosh’s latest book Hostage is similarly themed, though focussed on a flight attendant whose young daughter is threatened unless she (the mother, not the 5 year old!) takes down the plane.
by Clare Mackintosh
Published by Sourcebooks Landmark
Genres: Psychological Thriller
Mina is trying to focus on her job as a flight attendant, not the problems of her five-year-old daughter back home, or the fissures in her marriage.
But the plane has barely taken off when Mina receives a chilling note from an anonymous passenger, someone intent on ensuring the plane never reaches its destination. Someone who needs Mina's assistance and who knows exactly how to make her comply.
It's twenty hours to landing. A lot can happen in twenty hours.
It’s difficult not to compare the two novels, given the timing of their publication and themes. I’d suggest however, the genesis of the books probably reflects their respective strengths. Newman was a flight attendant so Falling is very much focussed on in-flight procedures and the attention to detail means it feels very real and thrilling.
Mackintosh, who wrote one of the twistiest books I’ve ever read (I Let You Go), focuses more on the people involved, on their stories and their lives. It’s suspenseful but more of a psychological thriller.
So, although this book is about someone keen to sabotage the first non-stop London to Sydney flight, Mackintosh takes a more in-depth look into the complex lives of our two key narrators, Mina and her husband Adam. They both feel real and relatable and it’s easy to engage with both. She also dips into the minds of some of the passengers on board, so we get first-hand snippets of their backstories and reasons for their travel. We’re also offered an array of cast members with celebrities, athletes and ‘influencers’ onboard the inaugural flight.
In my review of Falling I comment on the motivation behind the kidnapping as being a bit of an anticlimax. Though Mackintosh gives a little more attention to the bad guys, the ‘why’ is probably a little underdone here as well.
It doesn’t matter however as this book is as much about Mina and Adam and – dare I say (!?) – their hopes, dreams and regrets as it is about the circumstances in which Mina finds herself.
This is another great read by Mackintosh whose books I’m consistently enjoying. It’s well paced with the flight-time ticking down and just when we think we’ve got it all figured out she throws a couple of twists.
Hostage by Clare Mackintosh will be published in Australia by Hachette and available in late June 2021.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes.