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Avg. Rating: 3.5
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Wow, it even took me a while to recall the plot after reading the synopsis listed on Amazon. That's how much this book didn't stay with me even though I only read it about a year ago. It like one of Robin Cook's slower novels, where you know events are happening and dialogue is going on, but you don't really pay much attention and by the end you've forgotten the beginning.
If you want a really good thriller that involves airplanes, I'd go with John Nance. I have yet to read the guy, but from all accounts he's the master of the sub-genre. Also, I'd personally recommend both Airframe by Michael Crichton and Mayday from Nelson Demille and Thomas Block. Both very good books. Just skip over this one, there's a good reason it's out of print and taking up space on every thrift store shelf in America.
There's no doubting what crashed this book
This book is unbelievable - and not in the good way either. A team of government investigators searches for a shadowy genius capable of altering flight-navigation systems used by most large airliners, and obviously capable of bringing them all down. (When the mystery hacker blackmails the government, a few crashed planes are tossed in as a convincer.) Meanwhile, we meet Bo Kincaid, a grizzled veteran fighter pilot whose mastery in the air survived several wars abroad and incipient racism at home. Much of Bo exists as no more than flashbacks that occur thruought the book, and lack any apparent connection to the underlying story - flying Mustangs with the Tuskegee Airmen in WWII and Phantoms over Vietnam. In between learning of Bo's life, the reader watches the fitful and unproductive search for the extortionist whom investigators soon label "Captain Marvel". The investigators quickly hit on Florence Hartzig as the perfect expert to trap Marvel, but can never seem to locate her.
It would be generous to say that this book crashes and burns - generous because that implies that it ever got off the ground. Nothing much happens, but we're supposed to think that the author has done her homework and crafted expert characters, even as they don't do much during most of the story. (the author spends more time showing us how smart they are than he does having them get to the bottom of the mystery; in short, he spends so much time making them all geniuses, that he never makes them convincingly smart). We get the usual cast of characters - brainy and brawny hunks who know the system and how to work around it, and the rest (stand ins for us) as the idiots who'd be lost without them. Author Lee Gruenfeld puts her heroes' experience solving a myriad of issues both relevant (how airliners navigate, how extortionists use ATM machines) and otherwise (why Psychics aren't as reliable as they appear; why the media was wrong when it chastised the government over the Pentagon's $60 hammer). "All", more than many other books, is painfully in love with its sheer gobs of useless knowledge irrelevant to advancing the plot or developing the characters who wade through it. Unlike a really good book that grabs a hold of you from the first page, "All Fall Down" is sort of like some annoying guy you'll meet on an airplane and won't let go until you've heard everything he thinks about every subject he knows.
This Book Rocks!!
This is one satisfying read. I really wanted to give it almost 4 1/2 stars. It's very well written, and maintains a steady, but intense pace. The character development is excellent, as are the twists and turns that kept me guessing. It's one book that leaves you feeling full, like you've just eaten a tremendously good meal, and when it's done, you won't feel cheated by some lame ending like many other books have.
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