Using the form of a politico-literary thriller, Janette Turner Hospital has attempted a metaphysical novel of evil. In this case, as in some of her previous work, notably the mesmeric novel The Last Magician, the subject is the nightmare of power. Due Preparations for the Plague -- the title and the frequent quotes from Camus indicate the author's larger intentions -- is a descent through Dantean circles of governmental conspiracy and betrayal.
… Hospital has wrought from tragedy a life-affirming tale, asking in the end, as Samantha does, a highly personal question that arises from public tragedy: "[H]ow do we ready ourselves for what might happen tomorrow? What possible preparations can be made?" Paula L. Woods
Hospital (Oyster) is a writer of many gifts; her dark imagination, astute insights into societal interactions and the supple beauty of her prose, provide an irresistible combination. This latest novel is an enthralling tale about the intertwined fates of the survivors and the relatives of those who perished on Flight 64, hijacked by terrorists in 1987. The dysfunctional life of Lowell Hawthorne, a divorced father of two children, is rooted in his mother's death on that flight when he was a teenager ("every year, as September approaches, he believes he has put it all behind him, he believes he has laid the ghosts, he believes he will feel nothing but a dull, almost pleasurable sort of pain, like a toothache. And then: shazam, he is a wreck again"). Hawthorne is also tormented by the fact that his estranged father, an intelligence agent, may have had some knowledge of the hijacking before it happened. When Hawthorne's father dies suddenly under suspicious circumstances and Hawthorne starts getting phone calls from Samantha, one of the 40 children who survived the fatal flight (they were released before the plane was blown up), Hawthorne is finally forced to confront his demons. Together, Hawthorne and Samantha go on a dangerous quest to discover the truth behind the disaster and to understand why there was an apparent government coverup in its aftermath. In intense, lyrical prose, Hospital introduces seemingly disparate characters and places and connects them through an elaborate and poignantly tragic plot, only disrupted by the distracting inclusion of overelaborate descriptions of terrorist tactics. In this age of global terrorism, Hospital's sophisticated psychological thriller offers a thought-provoking glimpse of the sociopolitical intricacies of the individuals and organizations that track terrorism, as well as of the enduring personal struggles of those left behind after an attack. (July) Forecast: Though Hospital is better known in Canada and Europe than in the U.S., this new book, with its timely theme, could be her breakthrough here, aided by an eight-city author tour. Foreign rights have already been sold in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and U.K.. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
In this literary thriller about international terrorism, a 1987 CIA-sponsored hijacking goes tragically wrong, leaving a profound mark both on those who survived and on the family members of those who didn't. Thirteen years after the hijacking of Air France 64, Lowell Hawthorne, whose mother perished on the flight, receives a call from survivor Samantha Raleigh, one of the children released by the hijackers before they blew up the plane. Samantha wants to talk about the tragedy, but Lowell is adept at avoiding his feelings and puts her off for months. Then his father, a former CIA official, dies under mysterious circumstances and leaves him a bag filled with journals and videotapes about the incident. Evading shadowy operatives intent on reclaiming the material, Samantha and Lowell finally get together and discover the truth about the hijacking, a truth more personal and painful than they could have ever imagined. Writing in the shadow of September 11, Hospital has crafted a novel of fiercely powerful emotions and deeply unsettling implications that is not so much a departure from her earlier works (e.g., Oyster; Dislocations) as an extension of their psychological probing. Recommended for public libraries. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 2/15/03.]-Lawrence Rungren, Merrimack Valley Lib. Consortium, Andover, MA Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
The destructive legacies of a terrorist hijacking and a secret history of "corruption in American Intelligence": both are painstakingly pieced together in this grim literary thriller from the Australian-born author (Oyster, 1998, etc.). The story’s action occurs in flashbacks to 1987, when an Air France flight to New York is seized by the group "Black Death" as a means to liberating jailed "Muslim freedom fighters," with fatal consequences--and in a present time set 13 years later, when survivors and victims of the incident undertake to solve mysteries still surrounding it. Boston-area painting contractor Lowell Hawthorne, whose adulterous mother had perished when that plane exploded, is contacted by Georgetown University student Samantha Raleigh, who lost her parents in the same catastrophe and was furthermore one of 40 children on board released to safety by the terrorists. Samantha’s pursuit of the truth about Black Death (ostensibly her master’s thesis project), at first avoided and later abetted by Lowell, is juxtaposed against the experiences of people who did and did not board that plane--and complicated when Lowell acquires a collection of "coded journals" and videotapes left for him following the accidental death of his father Mather, a CIA "spook" who knew a great deal about the fatal flight, the origins and larger ambitions of Black Death, and the sinister involved figures code-named "Salamander" and "Sirocco." The interlocking connections and revelations are quite cleverly made, and the imagery of plague (linked to epigraph quotations from Boccaccio, Camus, and Defoe) is ingeniously expressed by both the horror of "a politically necessary exercise that got out of hand" and thetechnique of chemical warfare, explicated with chilling factuality in Mather’s explosive journals. Several other surprises lie in wait, as the past bears in on, and threatens to devour, the present. Strong stuff: an accomplished fusion of doomsday thriller and mordant morality play. Author tour