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Debra Hamel is the mother of two preternaturally attractive girls and the author of a number of books about ancient Greece. She writes and blogs from her subterranean lair in North Haven, CT. Read more.


Books by Debra Hamel:

THE BATTLE OF ARGINUSAE :
VICTORY AT SEA AND ITS TRAGIC AFTERMATH IN THE FINAL YEARS OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR
By Debra Hamel


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KILLING ERATOSTHENES:
A TRUE CRIME STORY
FROM ANCIENT ATHENS
By Debra Hamel


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READING HERODOTUS:
A GUIDED TOUR THROUGH THE WILD BOARS, DANCING SUITORS, AND CRAZY TYRANTS OF THE HISTORY
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THE MUTILATION OF THE HERMS:
UNPACKING AN ANCIENT MYSTERY
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TRYING NEAIRA:
THE TRUE STORY OF A COURTESAN'S SCANDALOUS LIFE IN ANCIENT GREECE
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SOCRATES AT WAR:
THE MILITARY HEROICS OF AN ICONIC INTELLECTUAL
By Debra Hamel


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ANCIENT GREEKS IN DRAG:
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IT WAS A DARK AND STORMY TWEET:
FIVE HUNDRED 1ST LINES IN 140 CHARACTERS OR LESS
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PRISONERS OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR
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Boyd, William: Ordinary Thunderstorms

  Amazon  

4.5 stars

William Boyd's Ordinary Thunderstorms starts well. A chance meeting in a restaurant leads Adam Kindred, a young academic in London for a job interview, to the scene of a murder. His DNA on the weapon and his accidental possession of certain information means he's being sought by both the authorities and the killer, so Adam does the only thing he can think of: he goes off the grid and starts playing a waiting game. What follows isn't quite the story this tense beginning led me to expect. It might have been an action-packed, edge-of-your-seat kind of read, the hero surviving by stealth, slipping away from his would-be captors via fast cars or daring feats. Instead, Boyd offers a less exciting but presumably more realistic story about how someone in Adam's position could manage to evade capture while building a new life from scratch. The stories of a number of other characters whose paths intersect with Adam's are also told: Rita, a policewoman with the marine unit, a CEO who, in a nice touch, has a penchant for not wearing underpants, the killer.

The book is not always gripping, but I like that Adam's story of life on the run seems realistic. I'm tempted to say that the book is put together well, in that the various stories do finally meet up and things make sense, but upon finishing it I realized there were some threads which seemed not to fit into the book as a whole. It's not that I want absolutely everything neatly packed away at the end, but I was left wondering what the point of large swaths of the story were, enough that I triple checked the cover copy to see if there's any indication that we're to expect a sequel: Nothing obvious, and I wouldn't think the story would really lend itself to a part two. Kindred isn't a particularly admirable character, or fascinating because of quirks or extreme intelligence or anything of that sort. I believe him as a character, but I probably won't remember him.

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