Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

Ordinary thunderstorms by William Boyd

Ordinary thunderstorms (original 2009; edition 2009)

by William Boyd

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
925599,453 (3.52)101
Title:Ordinary thunderstorms
Authors:William Boyd
Info:London : Bloomsbury, 2009.
Collections:Your library

Work details

Ordinary Thunderstorms by William Boyd (2009)


Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 101 mentions

English (53)  French (3)  Dutch (2)  German (1)  All languages (59)
Showing 1-5 of 53 (next | show all)
This read was an interesting experience for me, as the writer is British and I well grasped the various maxims, phrasings and aphorisms therein because I travel to England frequently and have come to understand the nuances of the language. As for the book itself, it's a breezy, tense read with a fascinating Law and Order plot that's very engaging. It would make an excellent movie. Try this for a slightly different linguistic and plotting experience.
  MartinBodek | Jun 11, 2015 |
This is an excellent, suspenseful story. The characters are vivid and very believable. The only reason I didn't give it 5 stars was the ending. The book just stopped, leaving you hanging as to what the final outcome would be. ( )
  grandpahobo | Mar 22, 2015 |
This is a really good read bit unbelievable in places but overall a really good well written enjoyable story
Main character is Adam Kincaid he is wanted for a murder of a scientist he didn't commit the Police are looking for him and so is the real killer.
Adam becomes a tramp and meets some interesting characters along the way, The Scientist who was murdered was about to expose a large drug company for negligence. Fast paced interesting story. ( )
  Daftboy1 | Feb 18, 2015 |
“Jonjo looked over at Bozzy for confirmation that Mr Quality was one sandwich short of a picnic” (p. 255). This sentence may indeed be common currency in the U. K., but it’s easily one of the funniest I’ve ever read.

One thing I’ve come to appreciate about William Boyd’s prose – and Ordinary Thunderstorms is no exception – is its virtuosity. Whatever quibble a given reader might have with the story-line of any of his novels, one can only admire and be thankful for Boyd’s command of the language. Either he knows it better than the vast majority of other contemporary writers, or he takes the time to check what he may be unsure of.

Either way, we’re the beneficiaries of his knowledge and care – even if “hoiking” (sic) is misspelled on p. 137 (and again on p. 352 and again/I> on p. 390), and “emolliently” (on p. 181) is, well, a one-of-a-kind adverb. I guess even William Boyd can slip up. But, as even he says: “‘Practice makes perfect,’ Adam thought” (p. 373).

Needless to say, I consider Boyd to be a master craftsman. What T. C. Boyle is to the short story, William Boyd is to the novel. They just don’t come any better.

I won’t bore you – a potential reader – with plot or character analysis. I’ll simply say that if you (as I was) were once shocked by A Clockwork Orange – either Anthony Burgess’s book or Stanley Kubrick’s cinematic version – you’ll be equally shocked by William Boyd’s Ordinary Thunderstoms. Merry ole England – while old (and getting older every day) – just ain’t so merry any longer. It, like New York City of not so long ago, can be downright scary. At least in the eyes, ears, nose, throat –and pen – of William Boyd.

Brooklyn, NY, U.S.A.

( )
1 vote RussellBittner | Dec 12, 2014 |
Six-word review: Inventive thriller explores questions of identity.

Extended review:

Getting by outside the system, living an undocumented life in the Information Age, is a theme that has interested me since long before the advent of the Internet. From time to time I've even considered the idea attractive and read with a tinge of envy about those who have done it, or nearly done it. So I was immediately intrigued by the premise of this novel: an innocent man, framed by circumstances, is believed to have committed a murder and goes underground to evade not only the police but the real killers.

Adam Kindred has come to London to begin a new life following a major setback in the personal and professional spheres. The new life he gets is not the one he sought. Instead, a chance encounter puts him in possession of a file containing information that will fatally compromise a hugely profitable pharmaceutical empire, putting his life in jeopardy with its hired thugs, while police pursue him as the suspect. How can he survive, alone, friendless, without resources, while powerful interests are determined to suppress what he knows?

You know a novel has me in its grip when I bring it out of the bedroom. An hour's bedtime reading per night wasn't enough for this thriller: I just had to see what happened next, so I spent several hours on the sofa with it two days running, preempting my current living room reading.

Now, I won't deny that this book has a number of apparent flaws, the main one being overindulgence in the development of an extensive network of secondary characters. In several cases their stories are more in the nature of digressions than they are essential to furthering plot or characterization; for example, I see no relevance in the dialogue between a prostitute and her customer about whether to take a vacation together, and not much in the details of how a young woman keeps her little boy drowsy and tractable or a business executive ruminates on his underwear. Yet I'm happy to overlook such arguably loose elements of structure because those asides are interesting. Likewise, Boyd's vision of how his protagonist adapts to his circumstances and builds relationships that affect his future course may have more than a little of the implausible about it, but as (presumably) speculative fiction it is highly entertaining. To the extent that his depiction of the forces of menace might be realistic, I'm duly chilled by the thought that anyone I care about might ever have to disappear deliberately.

In fact, I was somewhat surprised by my own inclination to be forgiving toward mistakes of the very sort that I tend to judge harshly in other works; for instance, failure to distinguish between "infer" and "imply"; some evident confusion about commas; a misrendering of "biceps" as "bicep" (coincidentally noted in Dark Fire, reviewed here just a few days ago, and not with any leniency); and a misuse of rebound where he plainly meant redound ("its success would rebound hugely in his and Calenture-Deutz's favour" - page 302). What this point suggests to me is that my degree of impatience with defects depends significantly on my overall pleasure or displeasure with the book and not the other way around.

One of the aspects of this novel that pleased me, and this may just be a matter of my peculiar taste, is the odd and even borderline bizarre names that he gives to his characters. Here's a sampling:

Ingram Fryzer
Mhouse and Ly-on
Jonjo Case
Yemi Thompson-Gbeho
Primo Belem

Extraordinary names such as these draw attention to themselves. Indeed, the name of the focal character caught my eye almost at once: Adam Kindred, Adam-father-of-us-all Kindred-related. This name tags him as a candidate for Everyman. Is there something allegorical about this novel? Certainly there is something fantastic about it, something that invites us to look beyond literal meanings and ask what the author is really doing.

In this connection we can't overlook the opening. The first two paragraphs address the reader directly, the first words being "Let us start with the river"--the river, a fertile metaphor as old as literature. After the establishment shot, the second paragraph zooms the lens: "There he is--look--" and a voice-over foreshadows the volcanic upheaval that is about to occur in the young man's life. And then the author abandons this cinematic conceit, but not before we've heard an echo of an ancient literary tradition, of Greek drama, of Shakespeare, of "Listen, my children, and you shall hear," and even of the familiar storyteller's voice in an older generation of modern fiction that predates MFA programs and writers' workshop cautions against "author intrusion."

Thus alerted by two prominent markers, I soon found a third signpost in the name of the drug at the root of the conflict into which Adam has been drawn: Zembla-4. This is an overt allusion to Nabokov's Pale Fire, a 1962 poem-cum-novel* whose focal character is, or believes he is, or appears to be, an exiled king living in disguise under the name Charles Kinbote. Zembla is the name of his troubled homeland. The resemblance of Kindred to Kinbote, both characters living under assumed identities and in fear for their lives, can hardly be coincidental.

Are these references intended simply as an homage to Nabokov, complete with a minor but pivotal character named Vladimir, or do they signify something more?

When Jonjo Case sits down to a newspaper puzzle involving anagrams, I suddenly remembered that anagramming was a favorite game of Nabokov's and that he often used such sly verbal devices to conceal clues to hidden meanings and connections in his novels. Immediately I set about anagramming all those weird character names, using the help of an online tool to make a thorough job of it. I didn't fail to include Rita Nashe, a normal enough name but with an unnecessary e that might be there to fill out another word with rearranged letters. I came up with nothing. Perhaps Boyd is just playing with his story and with us, dropping these tidbits because he can, but I suspect that I have missed other dimensions.

I'm unable to answer my own questions. Like the novel itself, I'm leaving some loose ends, threads that may tie up in the future--what will happen when Rita learns more? whom will the river bring back, and what will happen when it does? who, after all, is Adam Everyman? and what will surface as I reflect further on this uncommon narrative? Perhaps the questions are the point.

So--I brought the book out of the bedroom to read it faster. I looked kindly upon the flaws. I pondered its subtleties. And then I made haste to acquire the author's next title, Waiting for Sunrise. That's how you know it was a winner with me.

*Review of Pale Fire:
  ( )
2 vote Meredy | Jan 29, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 53 (next | show all)
That's what I thought when I finished it. I thought, "It's not the way a thriller writer would do it." But I thought fair dos, he's trying to do something different. It's not something that I would necessarily criticise him for.
This is an uneven novel. Yet Boyd’s restless inventiveness sustained me throughout and the ending proved satisfying, not least because Boyd doesn’t resolve the plot fully. He lets some stories flow beyond the last page, like the Thames.
added by Shortride | editBloomberg, James Pressley (Sep 25, 2009)
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Information from the French Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Alternative titles
Original publication date
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
Ordinary thunderstorms have the capacity to transform themselves into multi-cell storms of ever growing complexity. Such multi-cell storms display a marked increase in severity and their lifetime can be extended by a factor of ten or more. The grandfather of all thunderstorms, however, is the super-cell thunderstorm. It should be noted that even ordinary thunderstorms are capable of mutating into super-cell storms. These storms subside very slowly.
--Storm Dynamics and Hail Cascades
by L. D. Sax and W. S. Dutton
For Susan
First words
Let us start with the river - all things begin with the river and we shall probably end there, no doubt - but let's wait and see how we go.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Information from the Dutch Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Publisher series
Original language

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English


Book description
One May evening in London, Adam Kindred, a young climatologist in town for a job interview, is feeling good about the future as he sits down for a meal at a little Italian bistro. He strikes up a conversation with a solitary diner at the next table, who leaves soon afterward. With horrifying speed, this chance encounter leads to a series of malign accidents, through which Adam loses everything—home, family, friends, job, reputation, passport, credit cards, cell phone—never to get them back.

The police are searching for him. There is a reward for his capture. A hired killer is stalking him. He is alone and anonymous in a huge, pitiless modern city. Adam has nowhere to go but down—underground. He decides to join that vast army of the disappeared and the missing who throng London’s lowest levels as he tries to figure out what to do with his life and struggles to understand the forces that have made it unravel so spectacularly. Adam’s quest will take him all along the river Thames, from affluent Chelsea to the gritty East End, and on the way he will encounter all manner of London’s denizens—aristocrats, prostitutes, evangelists, and policewomen—and version after new version of himself.
Haiku summary

No descriptions found.

Adam Kindred is in London for a job interview and looking at a bright future. Then he has a chance meeting in a restaurant that results in a series of actions that cost him his family, his money, his very identity. Utterly alone, Adam joins London's underground society of dispossessed and tries to figure out what happened to his life.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 3 descriptions

Quick Links

Swap Ebooks Audio
20 avail.
93 wanted
5 pay6 pay

Popular covers


Average: (3.52)
1 10
1.5 1
2 21
2.5 8
3 76
3.5 44
4 113
4.5 15
5 27


2 editions of this book were published by Audible.com.

See editions

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.


Help/FAQs | About | Privacy/Terms | Blog | Store | Contact | LibraryThing.com | APIs | WikiThing | Common Knowledge | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | 100,861,531 books! | Top bar: Always visible