cover image Flying Hero

Flying Hero

Thomas Keneally. Grand Central Publishing, $28 (289pp) ISBN 978-0-446-51582-5

Palestinian terrorists hijack a jet en route from New York to Frankfurt, among whose passengers are an Australian aboriginal dance troupe and their white Australian tour manager. Divergent cultural worldviews collide in the skies in Keneally's ( To Asmara ) edge-of-the-seat suspense novel, which brings a rare degree of psychological nuance to the thriller genre. Designating tour manager Frank McCloud as a sacrificial victim, the hijackers attempt to turn the tribal dancers against him by portraying McCloud as a tool of mining interests and the CIA, a claim lent plausibility by a recent expose written by an outspoken London journalist, also among the hostages. Other key passengers include an eloquent, beautiful American woman of Japanese descent and a Jewish-American computer contractor whose software enables Israel to construct personality profiles of suspected terrorists. McCloud's last-minute decision not to become a passive victim reverberates with political as well as personal import. (Apr.)