Sphere | 2021 (22 June) | 400p | Review copy and Bought copy | Buy the book
Flight attendant Mina does all she can to get posted on the inaugural twenty-hour direct flight from Heathrow to Sydney. Not because of the media excitement surrounding the flight, or because it will be full of celebrity passengers, but because she needs a break from her estranged husband and difficult, albeit lovable little daughter, Sophia. But it’s not long before things start to go wrong aboard the flight. She finds Sophia’s EpiPen in her bag and then a passenger is found dead in his seat. It seems tragic rather than suspicious, until Mina finds a photo of her daughter, taken that very day, in his pocket. Mina receives a message. She only has to do one little thing and if she does it Sophia will be safe. If she doesn’t, Sophia will die. All Mina has to do is to let one of the passengers into the cockpit.
Hostage continues this summer’s trend for thrills at 30,000 feet but you know you’re in very safe hands with author Clare Mackintosh, who is the very best of thriller writers, largely because she combines incredible, ingenious plots with a great deal of heart and warmth, often exploring with great insight and feeling, as here, the relationship between parents and children. Children are innocent, their parents are not but they do all they can to protect these young souls who depend so completely on them. Loving them isn’t always easy. That’s the honest truth of these books. But it is overwhelming. Mina is very aware that passengers aboard a plane rely on the crew every bit as much. There is a trust there.
Mina’s troubled relationship with her husband, police detective Adam, and with her challenging, vulnerable daughter Sophia, lies at the heart of Hostage. The novel explores difficulties that Adam in particular faces and we fall deeply for Sophia. The plane situation dramatises the choices that both parents must make in a shocking and electric way.
This is a very exciting novel, there is no doubt about that at all. The chapters move between the ground and air and they also move between the passengers, giving us glimpses of the lives, dreams and sins of these people. I must admit that I did have some trouble keeping track as we get to know most by seat number rather than by name. Codes play quite a part in the book. It’s not always easy pinning people’s identity down. But it does serve to make the story deeply intriguing and very fast moving.
The scenes aboard the plane are full of fascinating details – the author’s research has been thorough.
I’m not going to give anything away about what goes on aboard the plane but I will say one thing – the ending of this book is absolutely brilliant! Clare Mackintosh does it again! As if that could possibly be a surprise…. Hostage is the perfect holiday read, not least because – possibly fortunately, having read this – so many of us are grounded.