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One May evening in London, Adam Kindred, a young climatologist in town for a job interview, is feeling good about the future as he sits down for a meal at a little Italian bistro. He strikes up a conversation with a solitary diner at the next table, who leaves soon afterward. With horrifying speed, this chance encounter leads to a series of malign accidents, through which Adam loses everything—home, family, friends, job, reputation, passport, credit cards, cell phone—never to get them back.

The police are searching for him. There is a reward for his capture. A hired killer is stalking him. He is alone and anonymous in a huge, pitiless modern city. Adam has nowhere to go but down—underground. He decides to join that vast army of the disappeared and the missing who throng London’s lowest levels as he tries to figure out what to do with his life and struggles to understand the forces that have made it unravel so spectacularly. Adam's quest will take him all along the river Thames, from affluent Chelsea to the gritty East End, and on the way he will encounter all manner of London's denizens—aristocrats, prostitutes, evangelists, and policewomen—and version after new version of himself.

Ordinary Thunderstorms, William Boyd's electric follow-up to his award-winning Restless, is a profound and gripping novel about the fragility of social identity, the corruption at the heart of big business, and the secrets that lie hidden in the filthy underbelly of every city.

Topics: Assassins

Published: HarperCollins on
ISBN: 9780061966262
List price: $10.99
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This was the second time that very I have read this very enjoyable novel. Though not, quite soaring up to the stratospheric heights of William Boyd's previous novel "Restless" nor as flawless as "Any Human Heart", this was still utterly engrossing, and demonstrated an intimate knowledge of the various reaches of the Thames. Indeed, the plot proved almost as sinuous as the river itself.The novel opens with Adam Kindred, a leading academic climatologist, emerging from an interview for an appointment at one of the leading London universities and going for a meal in a nearby restaurant. There he finds himself sitting next to Dr Philip Wang, a pharmacologist engaged in the quest for a cure for asthma. They chat briefly and then Wang departs. However, Adam notices that he has dropped a file of papers. Finding Wang's business card in the file he phones him, and arranges to take the forgotten papers around to the nearby flat Wang is staying in. When he arrives there he finds the door already open and, walking in he find that Wang is on the point of death having just been stabbed. Adam then notices that the flat has also been ransacked. Hearing a noise outside he flees, but not before he foolishly attempts to remove withdraw the knife that is still stuck in Wang's side, thus leaving his fingerprints behind.From that point on Adam finds himself leading the life of a fugitive, pursued by the police but also by the actual murderer. Having nowehere to turn he takes to living rough, and displays considerable ingenuity in carving out a new life on the streets of London. Menawhile the actual murderer is hunting him down, anxious to retrieve the file that Adam was still holding when he fled Wang's flat.Meanwhile we are introduced to Ingram Fryzer, CEO of Calenture-Deutz, the pharmaceutical firm for which Wang had been working. Fryzer has his own problems as he finds that he is suffering from sudden short-lived but intense pains while he also fleetingly, and gradually more frequently, loses control of his vocabulary.Ranging from the affluence of Chelsea to pockets of extreme deprivation in the East End, and taking in a range of uber-businessmen, contract killers, new age evangelists, prostitutes and police officers the plot constantly changes direction but never falters.This book definitely rewards the reader!more
This is a story about falling from grace. What happens when all money, safety, power are stripped away overnight, by mistake. How do people survive? To what lengths will they go? How does one build a new identity and a new life. All of these questions are addressed in the midst of a murder/suspense novel. Well done, William Boyd, well done!more
A tale of a young man who makes a tough decision and ends up being hunted for murder and forced to live in the underbelly of London. No the best of his books but the main character is very well written.more
In Ordinary Thunderstorms William Boyd has fashioned a fast-paced suspense novel, an edge-of-the-seat innocent-man-on-the-run thriller. Because of a chance encounter in a restaurant, Adam Kindred's life is irrevocably altered. A simple act of kindness turns lethal, and Adam finds himself on the run, pursued by a murderer, for whom he is a loose end, and by the police, for whom he is a prime suspect. All is not lost however. Adam, a climatologist by trade, is shrewd and resourceful. He uses his smarts (and a bit of luck) to turn things around, to construct a new identity and re-enter society as someone who does not have to spend his days looking over his shoulder. Boyd's ingenious narrative employs multiple perspectives as it zigzags through a labyrinthine plot. The reader is acquainted with all the players and witnesses the action from a variety of angles. It is a deft balancing act that the author carries off with apparent ease. Ordinary Thunderstorms is a thoroughly engrossing reading experience, a wise and entertaining novel in which danger lurks around every corner, but one that also has something profound to say about corporate greed and society's treatment of its less fortunate members.more
Read all 41 reviews

Reviews

This was the second time that very I have read this very enjoyable novel. Though not, quite soaring up to the stratospheric heights of William Boyd's previous novel "Restless" nor as flawless as "Any Human Heart", this was still utterly engrossing, and demonstrated an intimate knowledge of the various reaches of the Thames. Indeed, the plot proved almost as sinuous as the river itself.The novel opens with Adam Kindred, a leading academic climatologist, emerging from an interview for an appointment at one of the leading London universities and going for a meal in a nearby restaurant. There he finds himself sitting next to Dr Philip Wang, a pharmacologist engaged in the quest for a cure for asthma. They chat briefly and then Wang departs. However, Adam notices that he has dropped a file of papers. Finding Wang's business card in the file he phones him, and arranges to take the forgotten papers around to the nearby flat Wang is staying in. When he arrives there he finds the door already open and, walking in he find that Wang is on the point of death having just been stabbed. Adam then notices that the flat has also been ransacked. Hearing a noise outside he flees, but not before he foolishly attempts to remove withdraw the knife that is still stuck in Wang's side, thus leaving his fingerprints behind.From that point on Adam finds himself leading the life of a fugitive, pursued by the police but also by the actual murderer. Having nowehere to turn he takes to living rough, and displays considerable ingenuity in carving out a new life on the streets of London. Menawhile the actual murderer is hunting him down, anxious to retrieve the file that Adam was still holding when he fled Wang's flat.Meanwhile we are introduced to Ingram Fryzer, CEO of Calenture-Deutz, the pharmaceutical firm for which Wang had been working. Fryzer has his own problems as he finds that he is suffering from sudden short-lived but intense pains while he also fleetingly, and gradually more frequently, loses control of his vocabulary.Ranging from the affluence of Chelsea to pockets of extreme deprivation in the East End, and taking in a range of uber-businessmen, contract killers, new age evangelists, prostitutes and police officers the plot constantly changes direction but never falters.This book definitely rewards the reader!more
This is a story about falling from grace. What happens when all money, safety, power are stripped away overnight, by mistake. How do people survive? To what lengths will they go? How does one build a new identity and a new life. All of these questions are addressed in the midst of a murder/suspense novel. Well done, William Boyd, well done!more
A tale of a young man who makes a tough decision and ends up being hunted for murder and forced to live in the underbelly of London. No the best of his books but the main character is very well written.more
In Ordinary Thunderstorms William Boyd has fashioned a fast-paced suspense novel, an edge-of-the-seat innocent-man-on-the-run thriller. Because of a chance encounter in a restaurant, Adam Kindred's life is irrevocably altered. A simple act of kindness turns lethal, and Adam finds himself on the run, pursued by a murderer, for whom he is a loose end, and by the police, for whom he is a prime suspect. All is not lost however. Adam, a climatologist by trade, is shrewd and resourceful. He uses his smarts (and a bit of luck) to turn things around, to construct a new identity and re-enter society as someone who does not have to spend his days looking over his shoulder. Boyd's ingenious narrative employs multiple perspectives as it zigzags through a labyrinthine plot. The reader is acquainted with all the players and witnesses the action from a variety of angles. It is a deft balancing act that the author carries off with apparent ease. Ordinary Thunderstorms is a thoroughly engrossing reading experience, a wise and entertaining novel in which danger lurks around every corner, but one that also has something profound to say about corporate greed and society's treatment of its less fortunate members.more
It is a thrilling and breathtaking fast-paced story. The language is absolutely brilliant. It shows how the life of a young man was turned upside down. Getting back a worth living life he has to solve a murder. He isn't helping the police which are hunting him, quit the contray he is playing a pharmaceutic group off against a bounty hunter. In the end he is getting a new life back. Probably a better one?more
This is a book about identity. It is a grand story; better than Boyd's more recent 'Waiting For Sunrise' because it carries a more cohesive and engaging idea, that of surface verses deep character and the circumstances needed to force deep character to the surface. A tough killer is reduced to a weeping child, outwitted by a homeless climatologist. It is a little irksome that the winners here tend to be the middle class but that is a minor middle-class quibble in itself. Another bonus, reading this book, is seeing all the plot lines dance out, spiral and engage again.more
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