Artist's brush with fate

FATE intervenes in Scott Burroughs' life in two ways, the first when Maggie Bateman offers the struggling artist a seat on her husband's private plane from Martha's Vineyard to New York.

Burroughs is relieved. It saves him time on the ferry and he's got a meeting about a potential show as his latest pieces of work are attracting some attention. Finally.

Just minutes after take-off, however, the plane plunges into the ocean with its eight passengers and three crew. But fate again plays its hand and Burroughs survives the crash, dragging the Batemans' small son to safety and becoming a national hero in the process.

David Bateman was CEO of a controversial news channel so the crash and Scott's heroics attract significant attention, and later, suspicion...particularly when it's discovered the artist's latest pieces depict disaster scenarios, including one which is hauntingly familiar.

The plot unfolds in several time frames. In the present day we follow the investigation into the accident and the way Burroughs handles the fallout - personally and publicly; and then we're also taken back to the events of the days (and sometimes weeks) before the crash.

These flashbacks allow us to get to know each of the plane's passengers and crew and Hawley does a good job of weaving them in at just the right time, as the events "after the fall'' unfold.

It's soon evident the crash wasn't accidental and we're presented with a number of possibilities in a whodunnit of sorts. In addition to the constant threats David Bateman received, another passenger is under FBI investigation, and then there's the former kidnapping of the Batemans' daughter.

This novel is well written and expertly paced to keep readers turning the pages, unsure of what's to come and who to trust. We bond easily with Burroughs but are nervous, as we've all been deceived before by likeable protagonists.

Hawley is possibly better known for his impressive television resume - including his current work as creator and writer of the acclaimed show Fargo. He brings that vision and ability to weave a complex tale in this impressive piece of work.

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