Written by: William Boyd
Published by: Harper
Reviewed by: MARY FOSTER, Associated Press
Life can change in a blink of the eye, completely and forever. It is a bitter lesson that Adam Kindred learns on a rainy evening in London in William Boyd's "Ordinary Thunderstorms."
The story begins with Kindred, whose complacency was disrupted when a fling with a student brought both his college teaching job and his marriage to an end, is in London trying to put his life back together.
A climatologist and researcher, Kindred has what appears to be a successful job interview and, on a whim, decides to stop at a little out-of-the-way restaurant for dinner. While there, he strikes up a conversation with a fellow diner. That chance meeting starts a series of events that will change Kindred's life forever.
Within hours, he has been framed for murder and is being chased by a relentless hired killer. It is all linked to a pharmaceutical scandal that Kindred slowly comes to understand.
Kindred must find a way to hide from the police and the killer, something he proves surprisingly adept at doing. He gets rid of his credit cards, bank cards and mobile phone and joins the city's mass of homeless people. Luck helps him find a place to live and also plays a part in getting food and leading him to the Church of John Christ, where he becomes known as "John 1603," to distinguish him from the other Johns at the church. Kindred slips into the ranks of the homeless, prostitutes and pimps, but cannot escape danger.
Boyd, whose "A Good Man in Africa" won the Whitbread Book Award, does not stick to the classic thriller model in "Ordinary Thunderstorms," adding notes of farce, such as like the Church of John Christ, questions about identity and what makes up a community.