Celeste Three is Missing by Chris Calder
|Celeste Three is Missing by Chris Calder|
|Reviewer: Ani Johnson|
|Summary: The first successful commercial passenger flight to go outside the Earth's atmosphere is stolen but not for the reason you'd think. A slow burning escapist thriller to be enjoyed with a bit of disbelief suspension but the entertainment value makes it worth it. Chris Calder popped into Bookbag Towers to chat to us.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 284||Date: September 2015|
|Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform|
|External links: Author's website|
Celeste 3 is the first commercial passenger carrying space/aircraft to go beyond the Earth's atmosphere for any length of time. This advance in travel didn't come easily as the two previous prototypes demonstrated and so there's much interest as the date of each of its flights approaches. Two people are paying closer attention than the rest of the world's population due to the presence of a certain passenger as much as the vehicle itself. One of the high rollers will be the ruthless Russian billionaire Karenkov. Gregory Topozian and Jack Smith have seen friends and colleagues die at his whim so they have a bone to pick and an ambitious way to do it… as long as nothing and no one gets in the way.
Chris Calder didn't retire at the age most people would; he changed profession as he puts it and started writing novels. After My Brother's Keeper centring on a priest's crisis of faith and conscience and Payback, a revenge thriller, Chris stays on the revenge track for Celeste Three… and ironically novel three.
So the question is what do you do if you want to take revenge on an untouchable Russian oligarch/gangster? Answer: you wait for him to sign up for a flight in a revolutionary aircraft and then steal the whole thing. At least that's our hero Gregory's plan and, giving Chris his due as an author, he makes it sound a lot more plausible than I just did. For a start the Celeste 3 itself is a possibility, being just a step or two beyond the existing 'vomit comet' aircraft that NASA use to train astronauts in a weightlessness. The differences are that the Celeste stays beyond the Earth's atmosphere for longer and can only have one passenger in unsecured floating mode at a time to prevent people crunching into each other. (Yes, health and safety going mad indeed!)
The intrigue is layered on as we readers are only given information on a need-to-know basis. Therefore we witness a lot of half conversations or some that we're whisked away from before they begin, all of which suddenly make sense as the story develops. To add extra spice, even the moments that we think we can second guess turn out with a twist or two we hadn't been expecting. It's ok – no spoilers I promise! You'll understand as you come across them.
The whole tale revolves around Gregory, a man of great patience, imagination, contacts and enough business knowledge to provide infinite finances. That's not a criticism; we're in the world of escapism here not documentary. When writing an entertaining thriller, he's just the sort of bloke you need. His other quality is fallibility of course. Oh yes, in the world of the thriller fallibility is indeed a quality (at least from a readers' viewpoint) as the ramped up tension and bitten nails show. Not even the two FBI agents (and more traditional good guys) Spencer and Marks can steal the limelight as it's Greg we want to succeed before the FBI do.
Greg's fixer Jack Smith shares a main supporting role with pilot John Sturgess. Each will serve Greg's purposes, one of them without coercion.
Karenkov is a wonderfully satisfying baddie in a cancel-Christmas-and-remove-his-heart-with-a-spoon kind of way. (I should reassure the squeamish that I was just quoting from a movie – there is nothing to make even the most blood-averse turn even vaguely pale.) There's nothing nice or remotely civil about our Russian which justifies the otherwise extensive lengths Greg will go to bring him down. If Greg doesn't succeed we've seen how people who even slightly irk Karenkov end up so the stakes are high.
If I was going to be picky, I would mumble about Yorkshire not having sidewalks and, once the opening action has subsided, the story takes a little while to gain momentum again. However, things do pick up and, as we hurtle towards lift off we hold on and enjoy a rather exciting ride.
(A big thank you to the author for providing us with a copy for review.)
Further Reading: If you enjoy a good thriller we also recommend the bloodier Churchill's Rogue: Volume 1 (Rogues Trilogy) by John Righten. If you prefer less of the red stuff over your thrills, Dark Corners by Ruth Rendell is high on the list.
You can read more about Chris Calder here.
Chris Calder was kind enough to be interviewed by Bookbag.
You can read more book reviews or buy Celeste Three is Missing by Chris Calder at Amazon.co.uk.
You can read more book reviews or buy Celeste Three is Missing by Chris Calder at Amazon.com.
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