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ALTITUDE ZERO by Hank Searls


by Hank Searls

Pub Date: June 10th, 1991
ISBN: 0-393-02989-1
Publisher: Norton

Poor copilot Anne Woodhouse. The company she flies for, PacLant Airlines, is trying to protect its lawsuit against Boeing by pressing her to change her memory about a fatal accident she saw the previous Christmas Eve—and her fellow employees, who hate her for scabbing a few years ago, aren't giving her an inch, even though they all know PacLant's safety procedures are dangerously lax. Oh, and her ex- husband's trying to kill her. Anne's ex—charming, violent Vietnam vet Cal McCann—is actually behind all her problems: he forced her into scabbing by ducking out on child-support payments, and he ruined her also with her scabrous boss Stanley Block, Jr., when he broke into his ritzy compound after the divorce to kill the company mascot. And it doesn't take long to realize that he's behind that Christmas Eve accident, too—an earlier attempt to kill Anne. It doesn't take you long, that is; the people charged with finding this stuff out—Cal's dewy-eyed shrink Gail Flodden and obsessive NTSC investigator Mike Ruble—misread the signals for just long enough for Cal to escape from his VA hospital, talk his way into the cabin of the flight taking Anne and her daughter out of the country, and set the plane on course to crash into the Block estate. Flodden and Ruble die, of course (as do most of the cast) but not Anne. Action veteran Searle (Kataki, etc.) spins a pleasurably implausible yarn that would probably make a terrific movie if it didn't come out of Airplane and its ilk in the first place.