Saturday, September 19

Night Fall - Nelson DeMille

Five years after TWA flight 800 fell out of the sky, cop and Anti-Terrorist Task Force member John Corey is approached by his wife, an FBI agent and also an ATTF member, about her concerns. Part of the team initial investigating the incident, she's never been convinced by the official explanation, particularly as soon many witnesses saw a fiery streak toward the plane moments before the explosion.
What follows is a fraught covert exploration of the evidence, coloured for the audience by two pieces of information we know that the protagonists don't. The first is that there was a missile, captured on video by a trysting pair of adulterous lovers. The second is the spectre of September 11, which looms over the plot. Though general impressions of time are given, the actual date is rarely mentioned, so every moment from about half way in has that additional tension. There is some fairly heavy retrospective wisdom - there are two paragraphs of Corey musing about "Mr Osama bin Laden," his wanted posters and the 45 million reward, and he mentally chastises the lack of security evident on federal facilities since the attempt on the World Trade Centre:

Washington and the news media chose to see each and every terrorist attack as a single event with little or no connection, whereas even an imbecile or a politician, if he thought about it long enough, could see pattern. Someone needed to rally the troops, or some event needed to be loud enough to wake up everyone.
For me the biggest flaw of Night Fall is that the central question of why the attack was covered up is never satisfactorily answered. I was also irritated by the use of September 11 as a deus ex machina to effectively ensure that the attack can once again be covered up, this time with all the ends tied neatly, which is somewhat unsatisfactory.
My brother-in-law, a fan of conspiracy, gave me the book with his recommendation. It was certainly an absorbing holiday read, though perhaps not wholly suitable for a trans-Atlantic flight! I'm glad I've experienced the DeMille phenomenon, but think once was enough. - Alex

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