Under the Radar by James Hamilton-Paterson - review by Simon Baker

Simon Baker

Pilot Episode

Under the Radar


Faber & Faber 299pp £14.99

After three comic novels about the embittered ghostwriter Gerald Samper, James Hamilton-Paterson returns to the more serious type of fiction that has shaped his career. Under the Radar (which could serve as the title of a memoir by this critically lauded yet low-profile author) is set mostly in the first half of the 1960s, when the Cold War was so wintry that a Soviet nuclear attack seemed frighteningly probable. Its central character, Squadron Leader Amos McKenna, pilots a Vulcan, which at that time was the most sophisticated craft in the air, envied even by Britain’s allies in America. 

Amos loves flying but struggles, rather Forsterishly, to connect with anything or anyone else, particularly with Jo, his wife, who hates living on an RAF base in the bleak, frostbitten Lincolnshire fens. Amos is drafted into a British-American team undertaking a special mission to develop greater resistance to the Soviet

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