Maddy's Reviews > Crashers

Crashers by Dana Haynes
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Dec 28, 10

bookshelves: 2010-reads
Read in May, 2010

SETTING: Portland, Oregon
SERIES: Debut
RATING: 4.5

Whenever there is an airline crash, there is a huge team of investigators that jump into action to determine what happened. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is the group that is responsible for running the investigation unless the crash is found to be a terrorist act, in which case, the FBI takes over. Their job is to find out why an aircraft crashed and to make recommendations to keep other aircraft from suffering the same fate. When CascadeAir Flight 818 crashes in Portland, Oregon, the initial team is on site within hours. They are then joined by over 200 other individuals—representatives of the pilots’, flight attendants’ and engineers’ unions, the engine manufacturer, FAA, Department of Transportation, Homeland Security, and so on—who each have responsibility for various parts of the analysis. I found the information about how the investigation was run to be absolutely fascinating, previously having no idea of exactly how much manpower was required to deal with this kind of situation.

The team is led by Susan Tanaka who appoints Dr. Leonard Tomzak (“Tommy”) as the lead investigator. That decision is not a popular one, in that Tommy had a less than successful experience at a crash site in Tennessee. However, he is the right man for the job. Among the various people working on the project are Kiki Duvall, “Sonar Witch”, who has a knack for analyzing sound information and Walter Mulroney who is a genius at rebuilding planes. Information soon comes in that indicates that sabotage may have been involved and that another plane with a delegation of Irish politicians may be targeted next. The situation is complicated by the fact that one of the members on the investigating team is able to manipulate information so that the real cause of the crash is undetectable.

Given the impending crash of another airplane, the team is subject to extreme pressure to deliver results in days rather than the years such an investigation would normally take. The suspense builds as the saboteur successfully outwits the team. I found the book unputdownable, as the situation grew more and more tense. In addition, Haynes did an excellent job of developing a large cast of characters, going beyond their professional personas and showing the humanity of each.

CRASHERS was not flawless. I found parts of the resolution to stretch credibility and the actions of the saboteur to be a bit over the top. That was more than made up for by the engaging plot, the non-stop tension, the intriguing information about the work of the team and the individuals who graced the pages.
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