Thursday, 19 July 2012

Ordinary Thunderstorms by Willam Boyd

What happens when your whole life changes in an afternoon? Everything you own, even your reputation and very identity, are taken away from you in an instant, leaving you hunted and hiding in the anonymity of London. In Boyd’s thriller about big pharmaceutical business, this is exactly what happens to Adam Kindred when he is framed for the murder of a whistleblower.

Realising that this isn’t going to look good with the law, Adam puts off calling the police and instead makes his way back to the hotel he’s staying in, stopping in a pub on the way:

Adam asked directions to Pimlico and set off, once sure of where he should be heading. On his way there he found a pub, reassuringly mediocre – indeed, as if ‘average’ subsumed all its ambitions: an averagely stained patterned carpet, middle-of-the-road muzak playing, three gaming machines pinging and gonging away not too loudly, a shabby-looking blue-collar clientele, a perfectly acceptable number of beers available and unexceptionable pub food on offer – pies, sandwiches and a dish of the day (smearily erased). Adam felt oddly reassured by this pointed decision to settle for the accepted norm, to strive for nothing higher than the tolerable median. He would remember this place. He ordered a large whisky with ice and a pack of peanuts, took his drink to a table in the corner and began to reflect... Adam drank his whisky and consumed his peanuts with a velocity and hunger that surprised him, emptying the packet into his cupped palm and tipping the nuts carelessly into his mouth in an almost ape-like way (stray peanuts bouncing off the table top in front of him). The packet was empty in seconds, crumpled and placed on the table where it cracklingly tried to uncrumple itself for a further few seconds, while Adam picked up and ate the individual peanuts that had escaped his immediate furious appetite. He wondered, as he savoured the salty, waxy peanut taste, if there were a more nutritious or satisfying foodstuff on the planet – sometimes salted peanuts were all that man required.

Unfortunately for Adam, this is a problem that is going to require more than whisky and bar snacks...

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