cover image Flying to Pieces

Flying to Pieces

Dean Ing. Forge, $24.95 (349pp) ISBN 978-0-312-85741-7

They may be self-styled B.O.F.s--""Boring Old Farts""--but the retired pilots of the WWII, Korea and Vietnam eras featured in Ing's new thriller (after Spooker) can still get the job done. The job is the retrieval, for profit, of some ancient but mint-condition and invaluable Japanese warplanes hidden on Fundabora, an island ""halfway between Guam and the Philippines."" Not only must these throttle jockeys cross most of the Pacific to reach their destination, but, once they get there, they must deal with Jean-Claude Pelele, the island's wily, brutal despot. Their leader is 60-ish Wade Lovett, a Kansas-based airplane broker whose passion for aircraft is matched only by his devotion to his 17-year-old grandson, Chip, a California boy partial to classical piano and surfing. Chip's mother, Wade's daughter, disapproves of Wade's rowdy tendencies and influence on Chip. So, of course, when Wade, three B.O.F.s and the middle-aged daughter of a legendary dead B.O.F. take off for Fundabora, Chip stows away. Too much of the story is taken up with unexciting passages about searching for the hidden planes, digging out a cave, aircraft maintenance and the budding--and hokey--relationship between Chip and an effeminate local schoolteacher, Keikano. However, the aging, leathery leads make for intriguing heroes; the aerial detail is strong (Ing is a USAF vet); and there's a bang-up climax to cap off the action. (Aug.)