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Captain by Thomas Block
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Captain

by Thomas Block

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I don't read a lot of suspense novels, though books I do enjoy contain this element in one form or another. For some this tidbit may not matter, but it is always a good idea to understand what the reviewer enjoys on a regular basis.


We are quickly introduced to the sides of aviation. Yes, sides. We see multiple point of views, all on the same situation. A flight on its way back to America has had both engines run away, an impossible scenario that today’s newer, by the book pilots can't wrap their heads around. On the other side we have corporate aviation, the ones who care only for numbers, and well money.





Finally, and perhaps the most intriguing of them all are the older pilots. Ray and Jack most specifically, but many more are involved on the now corporate side. These are very men (and women) who have been flying since a time before computers, a time prior to auto pilot. These prestigious pilots are from a generation where the rule book wasn't much more than a set of guidelines. At times they may push boundaries, but they understand and respect the airplanes they are tasked to fly.





During a heated battle in the cockpit of Flight 3, a new-breed pilot faces off against an old timer (Ray) to fix the runaway engines, a gun shot goes off, followed by another. A radio message is relayed that alerts the corporation to the flight being hijacked, and a repeat of 9/11 is underway. With the problem seemingly fixed, it's now up to the former Captain to safely land the plane, but they have a vast, icy cold, and deadly ocean to cross with nothing but his own two hands, and eyes as his guide.





The corporation must go off of the only facts they have, or so they tell the many ex-pilots working on the situation. Greed, secrets, and a boat load of money must be protected though, and soon the truth is stretched beyond belief as Homeland Defense and the TSA are brought into the search for the missing flight.




The pacing felt right, perfect even as each chapter gave just enough, not to little or too much, to keep you engaged. I understand the importance of this factor when reading suspense, action, and mystery genre stories, but I truly felt the author had a distinct knack for keeping his audience in the now. I didn't find myself hung-up on any of the lingo, but my grandfather and great uncle were both pilots. In fact that is what drew me to this story when I was asked to review it; I love aviation.





There were many side stories to fully complement the plot, and I felt that the author did a fantastic job at meticulously creating his characters, seamlessly weaving them into his plot. We have a good idea about the differences in the older pilots when compared to the newer ones, but what I liked was Linda Erikson, a younger pilot flying flight 3, that understood that the book, the rules, sometimes they needed to be broken in order to save lives. This is quite relatable for me, though, I don't have to worry about the lives of others like Linda did.





Due to language during intense moments, I would recommend Captain to those 17 or older. However older teens (and adults) who love suspense or aviation based stories would also enjoy it. This one will send chills down your spine as you experience the fear, greed, and the fight for survival when all the odds are placed against you. ( )
  AuthorRaeZRyans | May 24, 2014 |
As I almost always say at the beginning of every review, I received this book as part of a GoodReads drawing. Despite that kind consideration I will provide my utterly candid opinion below.

Many other reviewers have pointed out the dramatic aspects of this novel and I won't disagree with them. The story runs along the typical line of air disaster movies that were so popular in the 70's and 80's and is a reasonable example of such. The standard 'plot complications' that arise in the story are reasonably novel and one does feel educationally edified by the end of things. Block's work grabs the attention and then holds on to it rather fitfully for what seems like a very long time. "Captain" is a standard pulp airline suspense novel.

At its heart the story has a good idea but at times the rendering is shaky. The text could use extensive editing and part of the reader's soul dies each time the author uses the phrase "can't hardly", drops one of several unnecessary profanities or uses the same trite phrase four times in the span of two pages of text. Block's rendering of the technical aspects of flying are wonderfully credible and solid but once he wanders outside his realm of immediate knowledge things seem to come apart. The interactions between characters range from maudlin to plastic and fail to sound the ring of truth in the reader's ear. Block also has a tendency to use rather obsolete terminology and wording that made me check repeatedly that the novel wasn't actually a reprint of one written 20 years ago. The pervasive use of the term "internet message" over the more common term "email" was especially distracting.

From a content perspective, it's clear Block knows his way around a plane but it's equally clear that he has a bone to pick with the manner in which the airline industry has evolved over the past few decades. I'm certainly in no position to make any value judgement on whether those changes are good or bad but it is evident what Block's opinion is. He spends considerable effort painting the old school pilots as heroes who get their jobs done despite the utter incompetence of their higher-ups. This results in some befuddlingly implausible situations that dilute Block's obvious knowledge of piloting an aircraft.

In summary, "Captain" does offer us a dramatic insight into the world of a commercial airline pilot. Unfortunately, some of the points of execution are firing rather amiss and the result is a novel that is obviously written by an airline pilot and not by a professional writer. There is much merit to be sure but this one needs quite a bit of additional polish to make it a quality novel. ( )
  slavenrm | Apr 13, 2013 |
After reading this book I am not sure if I am going to get on an airplane again...seriously, this book was so descriptive of what can happen when human error is involved. Then there are computers that run everything and we know how a computer virus can really mess with stuff. So put those things together along with an airplane carrying 200+ passengers on a routine international flight and you have one scary situation.

There are pilots, flight attendants, owners of the airline, and a myriad of other characters, interspersed with personal stories that will keep you reading on.

It is obvious that Thomas Block knows his stuff when it comes to airplanes and being a pilot. He is also a writer that can keep the reader on the edge of the seat. I think about halfway through I had a problem putting the book down, it was that good. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and you will too, you don't even have to know about airplanes to enjoy it. Now about getting on that next plane..... ( )
  celticlady53 | Jan 7, 2013 |
I found Captain by Thomas Block to be a very engaging and engrossing story. I know next to nothing about aviation, short of the few flights we take every now and then, so I am certainly not speaking from any type of expert point-of-view - that is for the author, who retired as an airline pilot with a lot of experience.

This book gives readers an inside look at some of the possible situations being faced by today's airline pilots, crews, companies and passengers.

Thomas Block created some wonderful characters that will pull you into the story and keep your attention riveted to what is going on. In a few situations, I found myself holding my breath as conversations played out. I particularly liked the strength of Linda. There was also a depth of emotions that you don't always see often in books.

One thing I've never particularly considered is how technology has affected the choices and views of pilots today vs. pilots from an older era. When you rely on technology to do everything for you, you can loose some of the problem-solving skills that could mean the difference between life and death... and safety.

I also enjoyed looking at the airline situations from differing viewpoints - that of the pilot and crew (taking actions and making decisions as things unfold), and that of corporate, who is more concerned with money and numbers.

Join the flight crew and passengers on Flight-3 as the suspense heats up. This fast-paced suspense packed book will keep you entertained to the end.

Thrillers and suspense are not my normally read genres, but I'm glad I stepped away from the norm to read Captain. It is a wonderful story that kept me fully riveted.

Disclosure: I received this book as part of a Karma Media Book Tour ( )
  wbarker | Aug 28, 2012 |
Showing 4 of 4
...I was truly moved by Captain Block's insight within the story. While this novel is quite entertaining on the surface as a thriller, it also runs deep with realistic emotion.
added by ThomasBlock | editAirways Magazine, Mark Berry (Aug 1, 2012)
 
...Thomas Block imbues his latest novel with all the good pilot details for which he's known and throws in enough action and calamity to keep you on the edge of your seat and turning pages....
added by ThomasBlock | editCessna Flyer, Jennifer Dellenbusch (Jun 1, 2012)
 
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Book description
Captain is Thomas Block’s most ambitious, intricate and action-packed aviation tale yet. It is a chilling and all-too-real story about a routine Trans-Atlantic airline flight that suddenly turns absolutely insane. In the doomed airliner's cockpit, inside the passenger cabin and on the ground, a complex array of characters have been propelled at jet speed into a sudden and frantic race for survival.

'Captain' is about the individual and collective struggles of each of these men and women as they attempt to deal with and ultimately fight against the odds and circumstances that are stacked against them.
Captain is a novel that pits man against man while also pitting man against machine. It is a story about the need for human judgments, hard-learned experiences, gut feelings and unbridled perseverance in an effort to rise up against a world where the strict adherence to written rules, regulations and procedures have been accepted as the norm.
Captain is about the way real airline pilots think, feel and react, especially after those giant airliners that they've strapped themselves to have suddenly turned vicious and unpredictable.
Author Nelson DeMille says: "After a long hiatus from writing, Captain Block rejoins the ranks of legendary pilots-turned-novelists such as Ernest K. Gann ('The High and the Mighty') and brings us Captain - one of the best aviation/adventure thrillers you will ever read."
Captain puts you in the cockpit, in the passenger cabin, and at airline headquarters with an intricate and intriguing array of characters. This novel is nothing short of the most frightening and heart-pounding Trans-Atlantic flight since Charles Lindbergh's solo. Or will it turn out to be Amelia Earhart's tragic Pacific crossing?"
Captain is right up there with the best of the aviation thrillers; an edge of your seat story of what happens when something goes horribly wrong when there is no room for wrong. Captain Block knows his stuff, and it shows on every page. Welcome aboard."
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"'Captain' is about the individual and collective struggles of each of these men and women as they attempt to deal with and ultimately fight against the odds and circumstances that are stacked against them. 'Captain' is a novel that pits man against man while also pitting man against machine. It is a story about the need for human judgments, hard-learned experiences, gut feelings and unbridled perseverance in an effort to rise up against a world where the strict adherence to written rules, regulations and procedures have been accepted as the norm. 'Captain' is about the way real airline pilots think, feel and react, especially after those giant airliners that they've strapped themselves to have suddenly turned vicious and unpredictable."--Publisher's Web site.… (more)

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