Picks and Pans Review: Airframe
Touchstone Pictures plunked down a reported $8 million for the film rights to this book even before the presses began to roll. Reading Crichton's latest thriller, it's easy to see why. The pacing is fast, the suspense nonstop. And unlike the dino-packed Jurassic Park—which read like it would take a miracle, or at least a Spielberg-size budget, to film—the compact Airframe seems born for celluloid. The story begins aboard a passenger jet bound from Hong Kong to Denver. Off the California coast, the plane suddenly lurches into a series of uncontrolled dives and ascents, and by the time the pilot makes an emergency landing in L.A., three people are dead and 57 others injured. Was it turbulence? Pilot error? A defect in the plane itself? Charged with finding out is Casey Singleton (think Demi Moore), a single mom and vice president at Norton Aircraft, the plane's maker. To succeed, she'll have to battle corrupt management, shady airline officials and union thugs bent on sabotaging an important Norton business deal.
With that kind of buildup, the story's eventual resolution seems a bit anticlimactic. And Crichton has never had much patience for character development. But when a ride is this much fun, who wants to stop and kick the tires? (Knopf, $26)