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Airframe: A Novel Paperback – March 22, 2011

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Editorial Reviews Review

Cruising 35,000 feet above the earth, a twin-engine commercial jet encounters an accident that leaves 3 dead, 56 wounded, and the cabin in shambles. What happened? With a multi-billion-dollar company-saving deal on the line, Casey Singleton is sent by her hard-driving boss to uncover the mysterious circumstances that led to the disaster before more people die. But someone doesn't want her to find the truth. Airframe bristles with authentic information, technical jargon, and the command of detail Crichton's readers have come to expect. Check out's Airframe feature and read an excerpt from the book! --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Like his role model, H.G. Wells, Crichton likes to moralize in his novels. In this slight, enjoyable thriller, the moral is the superficiality of TV, especially of its simplistic news coverage. Readers willing to overlook the irony of this message being broadcast by the man who created TV's top-rated drama (E.R.) will marvel again at Crichton's uncanny commercial instincts. The event that launches the story, conceived long before TWA Flight 800's last takeoff, is an airline disaster. Why did a passenger plane "porpoise"-pitch and dive repeatedly-enroute from Hong Kong to Denver, killing four and injuring 56? That's what Casey Singleton, v-p for quality assurance for Norton Aircraft, has to find out fast. If Norton's design is to blame, its imminent deal with China may collapse, and the huge company along with it. With Casey as his unsubtle focus-she's one of the few Crichton heroines, an all-American gal who's more plot device than character-Crichton works readers through a brisk course in airline mechanics and safety. The accretion of technical detail, though fascinating, makes for initially slow reading that speeds up only fitfully when Casey is menaced by what seem to be union men angry over the Chinese deal. But as she uncovers numerous anomalies about the accident, and as high corporate intrigue and a ratings-hungry TV news team enter the picture, the plot complicates and suspense rises, peaking high above the earth in an exciting re-creation of the flight. It's possible that Crichton has invented a new subgenre here-the industrial thriller-despite elements (video-generated clues, for one) recycled from his earlier work. It's certain that, while this is no Jurassic Park, he's concocted another slick, bestselling, cinema-ready entertainment. 2,000,000 first printing; Literary Guild main selection; film rights sold to Disney for a reported $8-$10 million; simultaneous large-print edition and Random House audio and CD editions.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; Reprint edition (March 22, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345526775
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345526779
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1.1 x 7.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (712 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #68,221 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Michael Crichton was born in Chicago in 1942. His novels include Next, State of Fear, Prey, Timeline, Jurassic Park, and The Andromeda Strain. He was also the creator of the television series ER. One of the most popular writers in the world, his books have been made into thirteen films, and translated in thirty-six languages. He died in 2008.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

71 of 77 people found the following review helpful By Atheen on April 29, 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I am constantly amazed by the breadth of Michael Crichton `s interests and by his remarkable skill in researching his subjects. I also find his indirectly expressed issues of more than passing significance. In Jurassic Park the issue is the arrogance of science in its manipulation of nature and the tendency of Western science to eschew accountability for the spillover costs to society when things go wrong. Airframe is another example of it. Here the issue of the freedom of speech and the lack of accountability of the media, particularly television news, is explored. In a society that has come to stress individual rights, little emphasis has been placed on individual responsibility. In order to be a functional culture, there has to be a balance of both rights and responsibilities. Airframe makes this abundantly clear.
As so often with Crichton's central characters, a uniquely placed individual must come to grips with the inherent difficulties of fighting an uphill battle against society's inertia. The heroine, Casey Singleton, is given the task of deciding how a disasterous air accident happened before a crucial business deal collapses and takes the company she works for and all of its employees down with it. It is by no means clear what is taking place, and ultimately she must come to trust her own personal interpretation of events to bring things to a head.
The detail is impressive. The characters are well developed and real. The story is riveting and fast paced. A thoroughly enjoyable book.
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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 21, 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is absolutely my favourite book by Michael Crichton. He may have a medical degree, but he writes about journalism, the media and politics with much more insight than the condescending attitudes of his scientist characters. This book is Crichton at his best--backed up, as ever, by extensive research into the topic, a cast of hugely realistic characters to love and love to hate, and, of course, an intriguing mystery thrown in to boot. Casey Singleton is a classic Crichton heroine--world-weary, wise, and an expert in her field, she reminds me of Sarah Harding from "The Lost World", except Casey has a REAL job. The realism of the plot is one of the main factors in making this one of Crichton's best books--all of this could really happen. I've seen other reviewers bellyache about the mundaneness of the final solution to the aircrash, but isn't that the most chilling note to the whole plot? Just how easily all this chaos was caused? Sleazy journalists, wise colleagues, a comical team of experts called in to exammine the aircraft, and at the centre of it all Casey Singleton, trying to save the company and at the same time trying to stop herself becoming the scapegoat to be sacrificed to the media: for me, this makes a brilliant novel. The final pages will blur by--and when you sit back with a sigh of relief, the underplayed conclusion to this book behind you, there is the final message: Don't believe everything you read in the papers. Well, I said it was realistically underplayed, didn't I?
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful By David A. Cohen on January 15, 2007
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This was a very enjoyable novel. The trademark punchy Crichton opening scene, around which the entire story revolves , is incredibly exciting. You'll also get a concentrated class in aviation acronyms. And the thoroughly satisfying "getting even" scene, toward the end, is especially tasty. Once again Mr Crichton gives you the tools to figure out the final revelation, but it will still knock you sideways, because I don't think you'll figure it out. The science is fine, and digestible. Once you get into the swing of things (acronym-wise) even the aircraft reports get semi-discernable, and pleasing. I highly recommend this book.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By casualsuede on August 9, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
The inner workings of this book are fantastic. Michael Crichton puts us into the Norton Aircraft facilities, with all the political goings on, the backstabbing, the wolves at the gate and air disaster.
As well as entertaining us, Crichton provides with an education in Public Relations and how the investigative journalism doesn't care about the truth, unless it suits their entertainment needs (one example is the DC-10 story he puts in).
I liked the main character who is always on the edge of losing her job. She has a tightrope the size of Dental Floss to work on and timelines that are impossible to meet. That, and the fact that her superiors want her to fail. It was worth the price of the book just to see how she would escape the tomb that others had thrown her in.
The book is chopped up into days (she has 7 days to figure out what caused a near-fatal problem that caused 3 deaths on a flight.) and that provides good suspense and closure as each section ends.
I recommend this book to anyone. It is a good read and one of Crichton's best books.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By R. PC on September 6, 1997
Format: Hardcover
OK, I've got this book figured out. It's about an airliner that suddenly goes into a steep climb, then a dive, another climb, another dive, etc. This is a metaphor for the book!! For a few pages you can't wait to turn the next one, then the book goes into a sudden stall. Wait, the plot is moving again! Nope, false alarm, turn out the light and go to sleep.
The main character is Casey Singleton, a modern super-businesswoman and super-divorced-mom. Luckily for her, though, she never has to worry about any work-family conflicts, because Crichton makes sure Casey's daughter is shipped off to stay with her scummy father for the whole book. Once in a while, Casey will gaze at her daughter's picture for a sec just to make sure the reader doesn't forget Casey still has a child. It might have been interesting to keep the kid at home and have Casey deal with problems faced by real moms (kids barfing down the hallway at 2 AM, for instance), but no, this would mean Casey would have to choose between work and family.
Casey, like all characters in the book, are worn cliches you've met a thousand times - the flaky sound engineer, the cheating ex-husband, the sneaky double agent, the violent and stupid union employees, the macho test pilot, the greedy boss, the slimy TV producer. Few of them are developed enough to care about. At one point Casey is pushed out of an airplane (sitting in a hanger, unfortunately) and it looked like things would get interesting, but I'd forgotten about that darn safety net under the plane.
There's a lot of technical info and jargon in the book that I, as something as a techno-nerd myself, found sort of interesting.
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