Wildfire season in the British Columbia Interior. Experienced firefighting pilot Rafe Mackie loses control of his airplane while doing a routine drop and plummets to his death.
The investigation that follows unleashes revelations that forever change the lives of three people: Will, the pilot who watched his mentor crash; Sharon, the widow struggling to come to terms with her loss; and Nathalie, an accident investigator with shadowy connections to the incident. As a form of the truth emerges, these three are drawn into a tangle of secrets and lies, passion and grief, blame and forgiveness that forces them to confront the actions that brought one man's life crashing to an end.
In her second novel, Frances Peck creates another explosive literary page-turner, one that probes love, loyalty, and the ways we try to conceal and redeem our lives.
About the author
Frances Peck, Vancouver, wrote fiction and poetry until the realities of adulthood and rent steered her toward ghostwriting, editing, and teaching. Known for her workshops on the finer points of language, she is the author of Peck’s English Pointers, a collection of essays and quizzes. She is a co-author of the popular HyperGrammar website, and an essayist and blogger whose work has appeared in Language Update, The Editors’ Weekly, West Coast Editor, and Geist. Now she’s rediscovering the magic of making things up. The Broken Places, her debut novel, was named a Globe and Mail best book of 2022.
Excerpt: Uncontrolled Flight (by (author) Frances Peck)
She asks what I remember. Thursday morning, July 18, 2013. Walk me through it, from the very beginning, she says. Whatever you recall.
As if there's any part of that morning I could forget.
Praise for Uncontrolled Flight...
"Uncontrolled Flight is a compelling read overloaded with turbulence --emotional, historical, and literal. Peck masterfully braids three strong and divergent voices into a robust narrative urged forward by the burning landscape and the mysterious, simmering ambitions of her complex characters. As I read, I found myself switching allegiances many times and questioning the choices we all have to make under obvious and invisible pressures."
TARA MCGUIRE, author of Holden After and Before
"Compelling from start to finish. Tangled webs . . . well woven."
DAVE PADDON, storyteller, author, and retired commercial pilot
"Masterfully crafted, with a complex cast of flawed and wholly relatable characters. Peck skillfully weaves multiple narratives into a riveting story that is part tragedy, part mystery -- and totally impossible to put down."
J.T. SIEMENS, author of the Sloane Donovan mystery series
"In Uncontrolled Flight Frances Peck skillfully navigates a taut tale of firefighting pilots, air crash investigators, and dangerously spiralling lives against authentically drawn BC settings. Her characters -- tough, damaged Nathalie; young, compromised Will; and heartbroken Sharon --gleam with originality and passion. As they careen through the loss of the heroic man who connects them all, their lives break open to reveal dark secrets and betrayals, but also treasures of courage, loyalty, and inspiring human potential for growth."
KAREN HOFMANN, author of What Is Going to Happen Next and A Brief View from the Coastal Suite
"Uncontrolled Flight is just what the title suggests: a fast-paced arc that leaves you both afraid of what's inevitably coming and yet unable to look away. Its deft complexity is like the aircraft so central to its storyline -- seemingly simple on the outside, yet packed full of connecting parts that all play a crucial role in the unfolding plot. It captures the conflicting feelings of those facing horror and loss inordinately well."
RUSSELL WANGERSKY, award-winning author of Burning Down the House: Fighting Fires and Losing Myself and Whirl Away
"Frances Peck's new novel is so compelling and accomplished it's easy to forget that it's only her second. Uncontrolled Flight is a beautifully paced, intimate look at BC wildfires, and the casually courageous aerial firefighters who risk their lives attempting to control them. As in her debut novel, The Broken Places, Peck's characters' voices are multidimensional -- I flew through the pages, enjoying all the nuance of their thoughts and desires. Peck's descriptions of BC and note-perfect dialogue are equally precise. I can't recommend this book or her writing highly enough."
DANILA BOTHA, author of Things That Cause Inappropriate Happiness and For All the Men (and Some of the Women) I've Known
"Uncontrolled Flight begins with a plane crash that sets off a complex, emotional ride. At turns tense, sexy, and heartbreaking, each page drops us deeper into the world of Rafe, the experienced pilot who seemed to have it all, and the loved ones left grappling to understand what went wrong, who to blame, and who to protect. As their stories converge, guilt and resentments, secrets and lies, twist into a knot that no reader could stand to leave alone."
GENEVIEVE SCOTT, author of The Damages