The book recounts 12 nervous hours in the life fictional airport ‘Lincoln International’ at Chicago and how the lives of about a dozen people collide as a result.
Mel Bakersfield (Airport General Manager),
Cindy Bakersfield (Mel’s wife),
D O Guerro (a passenger with a terrifying agenda!),
Tanya Livingston (A passenger relations officer; Mel has an affair with her),
Vernon Demerest (Captain and pilot of the flight ‘The Golden Argosy’ to Italy, and Mel’s brother-in-law),
Gwen Meighen (Senior Stewardess on board The Golden Argosy and Vernon’s mistress),
Eliott Freemantle (Lawyer with questionable ethics trying to bilk a local community that has been forever tormented by the literal din created by the airport, as a result of its proximity)
Joe Patroni (head of maintenance at the airport)
Ada Quosnett (A senior citizen and a Stowaway!)
The book is quite huge and phenomenal in detail and it’s quite a challenge to write a review without writing a book again!
Mel Bakersfield has to deal with the following in twelve long, prickly hours:
Lincoln International has been hammered by the worst snow storm in recorded history with feet of snow banks covering major runways. One such runway is Runway 30 which Joe Patroni, the heavily experienced legendary maintenance chief is trying to clear. Needless to say, air traffic has taken a bad hit!
Ada Quosnett, a senior citizen and a veteran of stowing-away on aircrafts gets herself, surreptitiously onto the ‘Golden Argosy’, a flight to Italy.
Vernon Demerest, who loathes Mel is one of the pilots of the Golden Argosy. He recently found out that his mistress, Gwen Meighen, was a few weeks pregnant with his child. The problem — he is in an emotionless marriage that he wants to break away from but doesn’t want to have a child either!
Tanya Livingston is ‘Trans America Airline’s passenger relations and she has a thing for Mel which is not unrequited! She is also an intelligent, savvy person and can deal with difficult people and difficult situations.
D O Guerrero is a failed building contractor. His family is impecunious. He hatches a plan, a nasty one! He plans on boarding the ‘Golden Argosy’ and blow it to smithereens once it’s in the air. The resulting insurance money (provided that the reason for the explosion goes undetected) would help his penurious family.
As all this is going on, Eliott Freemantle, a scheming lawyer has a demonstration right in the airport.
The book recounts Mel Bakerfield’s reaction to 12 hours of shear suspense which include a philandering wife, feet of snow on an important run way, a mid air explosion gone wrong, picketing by the lawyer, his own brother’s suicidal tendency, a stowaway and not to mention, a pregnancy!
In short: Yes, the bomb does go off.
No, the aircraft doesn’t crash but is close to it!
Yes, Cindy Bakersfield has an affair and Mel and Cindy split by mutual consent.
Yes, Eliott Freemantle, the corrupt lawyer is defeated as a result of Mel’s glib recollection of several proceedings from the court of law.
No, the end isn’t entirely happy. Neither is it tragic. Just complete.
Every time I think of an airport, several details that I was completely oblivious to before I read the book seem obvious to me! This is a delightful foray into the internal workings and those of customs officers, lawyers, maintenance men, police officers, not to mention politically motivated ‘people’ and crisis management teams that goes on in an airport and best known to us, ‘weary travelers’!
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