FLAT SPIN by David Freed is an amusing, exciting read, a who-done-it told by the main character, Cordell Logan, a flight instructor who can soar with the best of them. First and foremost, it is a fast-paced story, an attempt to catch a killer. But it is also about love and loss and the search for reconciliation in and around the mind of the hero.
Cordell Logan is down on his luck and asked to find the killer of Arlo Echevarria, Logan’s former boss and, earlier, his comrade in arms in a secret military assassination team. The dead man was also Logan’s ex-wife’s ex-husband. (Pause to savor this relationship.) At first, Logan refuses, but is persuaded to accept the commission by a large retainer from his ex-father-in-law. Using his aging Cessna 172—he calls it The Ruptured Duck—Logan searches for Echevarria’s murderer in and around the glitz capitols of the west coast. The Duck touches down in Los Angeles, Oakland, Las Vegas, and the deserts of Arizona before the story ends.
From the start, the book held me hostage. Obviously the author knows about guns and airplanes, so the scenes of flight and fright were authentic and entertaining. The book begins with the assassination-style killing of Echevarria, segues into Logan’s instruction of a woman who should not be flying an airplane. We are introduced to a glib-tongued narrator who lives with Kiddiot, his wonderful cat, and rents a garage apartment from Mrs. Schmulowitz, his delightful landlady.
What makes the novel really interesting for me—aside from Mrs. Schmulowitz, Kiddiot, and some of the descriptions of flight—is the inner conflict of the character, Logan. On the outside, he concentrates on finding Echevarria’s killer while the real story is happening on the inside. In his mind, Logan yearns for enlightenment with the detachment of a Buddha, but is still enthralled by his ex-wife, Savannah. It is this inner story that resonates with me.
Whatever, it is a book sure to entertain mystery lovers and I highly recommend it.
My Rating: 5-Stars
Copyright © 2012 by David Freed
(Flat Spin will be featured in the June/July issue of the Air & Space Smithsonian Magazine)
About the Author
David Freed is a screenwriter, novelist and former award-winning investigative journalist for The Los Angeles Times, where he was an individual finalist for the Pulitzer Prize’s Gold Medal for Public Service, the highest award in American journalism, and later shared in a Pulitzer Prize for the newspaper’s coverage of the 1992 Rodney King riots. His 8,600-word exposé in The Atlantic, detailing how the FBI pursued the wrong suspect in a string of anthrax murders following 9/11, was short-listed as a 2011 finalist in Feature Writing by the American Society of Magazine Editors.