Ghost Flight | Bear Grylls | 2015, Pb 2016 | Orion | 480p | Bought copy | Buy the book
Will Jaeger is on the run from himself. He has spent three years as a teacher in the west African nation of Bioko, trying – but failing – to get over something terrible that happened to his family in the Welsh mountains. But, when the political situation in Bioko explodes, Will, a foreigner and so now regarded with suspicion, finds himself close to death in the nation’s notorious Black Beach Prison. But destiny has other plans for Will Jaeger. He is rescued and returned to London where his old life needs him, waits for him. A lost war plane, thought to be seventy years old, has been located in the Amazonian jungle. Enduro Adventures, the company Will founded, has been hired to accompany a film crew into the jungle from which they will extract the plane along with whatever secrets it might contain. At the very least, this will be great TV.
Will is ex-SAS and better able to cope than most with whatever’s thrown at him and on this mission he gets the works. He has no problem with jungles, it’s the reptiles, insects, spiders, hostile tribes, appalling weather conditions, eternal damp and being lost that he’s not keen on. That and having to place his life in the hands of team members he’s only just met, particularly the enigmatic, forthright and distractingly attractive Russian agent Irina Narov.
As you’d expect, once Will and his team are in the jungle they have far more to contend with than its creepy crawlies. The race is on to uncover the mystery of the crashed plane and it’s a merciless, lethal race. Not everyone who goes in is going to come out.
I’m a huge fan of Bear Grylls’ TV programmes and was delighted to learn that he’s branched out into thriller writing. From what I can tell there is a collaborative author, Damien Lewis, but the spirit of Grylls is apparent throughout. In fact, it’s very easy to imagine Will Jaeger with the face of Bear Grylls. This does mean that you’re left in no doubt that he’ll survive – but all of the rest are fair game. And some are rather imaginatively disposed of.
Ghost Flight most definitely exceeded my expectations. There is plenty of action as our team struggle through miles of jungle but there is also lots and lots of fascinating detail, about the local flora and fauna but also about how to survive. I liked this. Will’s back history also adds interest and becomes increasingly relevant to the mystery. Talking of which, I love mysteries which echo back to the Second World War and the Nazis, and this is a good one.
I have no complaints at all about the writing. It’s done very well indeed and I was carried along by the thrills while also really enjoying spending time with Will Jaeger. He’s just the sort of man you’d want around in such a crisis, just like Bear Grylls. It’s fair to say that the characterisation of the two main female characters in the book left much to be desired (this is by far the weakest element of the novel) but I hope that this will improve as the series progresses.
This is a series and I’ve read reviews that didn’t care for the cliffhangery ending of Ghost Flight. Pre-warned, I was wary of this. But I’m really pleased to say that it wasn’t a problem for me. In fact, I found this to be far less cliffhangery than some other thrillers I’ve read. There is an element of looking ahead to the next novel but it also feels like a natural stage at which to move on.
I love well-written mystery action thrillers, I love the escapism of them at the end of a hard day, and I’m always looking out for new series to follow. I’m so glad I read Ghost Flight and now I can settle back and enjoy the next in the series – Burning Angels.