Ordinary Thunderstorms – William Boyd

Thunderstorm in West London

Ordinary Thunderstorms is not the first Boyd book I have written about since I started this blog, but it is the least convincing and the least interesting. The plot is well constructed, and there is a range of quite interesting characters. There is also a serious element – the behaviour of giant pharmaceutical companies – but this theme is not really pursued, it just drives the plot.

The original premise – that a witness to a shocking crime would go underground rather than seeking help from the police – just did not convince me. A young university lecturer with the world at his feet choosing to abandon all that the future might hold, and live the life of a homeless man in London – sorry – the book does not explore the rage and deep sense of injustice that would create: it is just a way of getting the plot started. The series of events that leads the protagonist forward also stretches credulity, culminating in his developing a romantic relationship with the very same policewoman who coincidentally saved his life earlier in the book when she arrested his assailant – even though she remains ignorant of this coincidence.

Some of the characters and ideas are interesting, but this is a thin book by Boyd’s standards, and I have included it in the Detective Fiction category, rather than in Modern Literature, though Thriller, or Beach Book would be better descriptions.

The Guardian Review of Ordinary Thunderstorms

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