Cicero Clay, who prefers to be referred to as just Clay, spent three years in prison for something he technically didn't do. He was set up by Mick, his former gang boss to take the fall for a drug deal, but little does Clay know it was a cover for a much bigger heist. Now that he's been paroled, Clay is trying to live a peaceful life as a glider pilot while helping his reclusive brother fix up a vintage WWII Mustang fighter plane, but the stigma of being an ex-con still follows him almost everywhere. Once the Mustang is flyable, he's planning to pilot it to the buyer his brother has set up and then disappear, but that all changes when one of his glider students jumps from the plane while in flight and then later turns up dead on Clay's front porch. That same day, Clay discovers that his high-school girlfriend, Montana, is now his new parole officer, and her teenage daughter looks awfully familiar. Next thing Clay knows, Montana is accusing him of stealing her jewelry, and Mick is contacting him from prison, demanding that Clay pull off a hit for him. Life has gotten really complicated for Clay really fast, but if he can stay alive, he may just find a new beginning that he wasn't expecting.
Angle of Attack was not really like any book I've read before, so I was very surprised by how well it held my attention. It is a mystery/suspense novel that is primarily a story in which the hero has been set up to take the fall for some serious crimes and must figure out who is trying to frame him and why. He has also been working with his brother to repair an essentially stolen WWII Mustang P-51 fighter and make it sufficiently air-worthy to fly to New Mexico where it is being purchased by some mysterious buyers. With the airplane side plot and the hero being a pilot (although primarily of gliders), there is a strong aviation element. This is also the first book I've ever read in the male first-person POV. I thought that this perspective, added to the rapid fire pace and writing style, gave the book something of a hard-boiled feel even though Clay isn't a detective. For me anyway, the book had a unique and different aspect to it that was an enjoyable departure from my usual reading material.
Clay was an interesting character in that he isn't entirely a good guy. In fact, I thought he had a touch of the anti-hero in him. He spent three years in prison for something he technically didn't do. He was involved in some shady dealings throughout his youth and at the time of his arrest, but what the police ended up charging him with was a complete set-up. Even now, he is indirectly involved in growing pot and is helping his brother with the "stolen" vintage airplane. In spite of all this, I found Clay to be a surprisingly likable character, although his taste in women is highly questionable, and I was initially a little off-put by him taking a bit too much notice of women who were half his age. Still, I admired his open-mindedness, and he did the right thing by cooperating with the police when he realized he was being set-up yet again. He also unselfishly abandoned his plans to disappear and take on a new identity to escape the stigma of being a con when life threw a curveball at him, which I felt showed he had a caring side.
The story has a number of secondary characters, but most we don't get to know it depth because of it being completely told in Clay's POV. When he unexpectedly reconnected with Montana, his high-school girlfriend who turns out to be his new parole officer, I really had to wonder about her. She definitely seemed to be one of those crazy women whose mood can change on a dime and who doesn't quite know what she wants. She pretty much epitomized the saying, "Crazy in the head; crazy in bed," and although there is nothing particularly explicit in the narrative, it's easy to tell that the sexual chemistry still burns fairly hot between her and Clay. In fact, this may be the only reason that Clay put up with her during their teen years and continues to once they meet up again, because otherwise, they were almost like oil and water. I was not in the least surprised by where Montana ended up. The other prominent secondary character is Montana's daughter, Tharcia. She becomes a driving force in Clay's life, someone he wants to protect and care for. Again, I was not at all surprised by certain revelations about their relationship. To the contrary, I would have been shocked if it hadn't turned out that way.
The only small problem I had was that I never quite figured out why Clay's glider student jumped out of the aircraft and in doing so, allegedly tried to kill Clay. However, I'm willing to admit that I may have missed this plot point due to being very tired while reading. Otherwise, it was an enjoyable story. The parts about the airplanes and flying deftly showcase the author's personal experience in these areas. It did get a little tedious for me as this simply isn't a primary area of interest, but I have no doubt that aviation enthusiasts would enjoy it immensely. Overall, Angle of Attack was a fast-paced mystery/suspense story that nicely weaves together multiple plot points. I would recommend it for anyone who likes this type of story or is interested in flying.
Note: I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.
The Hope Chest Reviews on Facebook