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Crescent Blues Book ViewsBantam Dell Publishing Group, (Paperback), ISBN 0-440-23734-3
Kam Majd opens the cockpit door and offers readers a peek inside in his first aviation thriller, High Wire. Drawing on his training and experience as an airline pilot, he paints a realistic view of aviation careers and lifestyles. He shows the fragile and unpredictable control pilots hold over the technology, and ultimately life and death. And he creates a compelling female protagonist in Kate Gallagher.

Book: Kam Majd, High WireKate fights a sexist first officer and deteriorating winter weather as she guides a passenger-filled jet airliner into a landing at Kennedy International Airport. Unknown to Kate, a computer virus prevents the plane from responding to her commands, making every pilot's nightmare her reality. Only the pilots and a few others walk away from the crash.

While the fuselage still smolders, experts invade the wreckage to evaluate the incident. Kate recuperates in the hospital amidst a swirl of whispered rumor: "pilot error." Her first officer, Edmond Bell, takes pleasure in fanning the speculation into a flame that may consume Kate, her career and all she loves.

Kate's family rallies around her as does one handsome investigator, Michael O'Rourke, but the facts seem against her. She strikes out on her own to explain her theory that a technical glitch caused the crash. As she exonerates herself and restores her reputation, she also endangers her life and those of her loved ones. The simple problem widens into a conspiracy fueled by greed and ignorance. Ultimately, the virus crops up again and only Kate can save the pilots and passengers.

As if to counter the high technology of aviation, a subplot introduces Kate's home life, her mother and daughter (Molly). Readers feel warm and fuzzy around this ethnic family of strong females making their way in the world. Kam Majd writes convincingly from a woman's point of view.

A few weaknesses detract from this first effort. The book suffers from a beginner's tendency to overwrite and create stereotypical one-dimensional characters. A half-hearted romantic story line never gets off the ground. And the author's thin sense of place ruins an opportunity to use the setting as a character.

Yet, the strength of the detailed aviation story line carries the book to a suspenseful ending. High Wire overshadows weak writing with strong research and insider details, resulting in a tantalizing introduction to this new series.

Dawn Goldsmith

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