In this debut thriller, a pilot survives a crash and discovers that he’s developed strange abilities, which come in handy when someone kidnaps his friend’s daughter.
Will Stewart, a 30-something pilot for Essex County Air Services, wakes in an Essex, Wisconsin, hospital with a broken pelvis, lucky to be alive after his twin-engine airplane accident. He remembers nothing—but what’s more unsettling is the fact that he’s floating 6 feet above his bed, his body invisible. When the moment passes, Will initially chalks it up to a morphine-induced hallucination. Later, he’s not so sure, but he’s hesitant about testing himself further. For one thing, he doesn’t want to give his 23-year-old police-sergeant wife, Andrea “Andy” Taylor, anything else to worry about. However, Will can’t resist using his new powers, especially after he’s home from the hospital. With practice, he discovers that he can control his invisible floating, and that anything he’s wearing becomes invisible, as well. For a man who loves flying planes, it’s a huge rush: “I felt joy in its purest form. First solo flight joy. First time popping up through the clouds joy. First love joy.” Will perfects his floating technique a bit slowly, but it’s enjoyable to watch his growing mastery. Then disaster hits when gangsters kidnap Lane Franklin, the 14-year-old daughter of the air service’s office manager, in Essex, where she and her mother live. A member of the gang later tells Andy that Lane was “selected by someone big, someone on top.” The cop joins the hunt to find her, and Will feels “the dawning of a brilliant, and possibly insane idea” involving his new abilities. If he can pull it off, he’ll save an innocent girl from a terrible fate.
Seaborne, a flight instructor and charter pilot, vividly evokes the world of charter airlines and those who populate them, particularly with his well-drawn character sketches. For example, he ably evokes the owner of Essex County Air Services, Earl Jackson, who sold his lucrative business and now “prefers to spend his days sitting in a tiny office crammed with maintenance manuals and pondering fuel purchases.” The book offers lots of information on aviation and law enforcement, but it’s nicely counterbalanced with warm human relationships, such as the one between Will and Andy. The novel’s latter half shows how Will’s practice sessions pay off, offering several satisfying outcomes. However, this second part lacks the plausibility that Seaborne so carefully constructs in the first, and more closely resembles an extended action sequence in a superhero tale, although, in this case, Will is still learning to control his powers. The thugs are standard issue, and with few candidates to choose from, the main villain’s identity isn’t hard to guess. That said, Milwaukee is well-described, from its boarded-up inner-city houses to its luxe mansions on Lake Drive. Altogether, this book is a strong start to a series, which will continue in Divisible Man: The Sixth Pawn.
Well-written and engaging, with memorable characters and an intriguing hero.