Lead Review – F1 thriller set in MOSCOW
- Book: Crash
- Location: Moscow
- Author: Toby Vintcent
There is a terrible crash at the Moscow Grand Prix. 36 people are killed when Remy Sabatino’s car comes off the track and ploughs into the crowd. Remy, the pre-eminent female driver, and Tahm Nazar the team boss of the Ptarmigan team for whom she drives, are arrested – the Russian public demand retribution for Ptarmigan’s ‘negligence’, and a swift ‘show trial’ is arranged.
But the team know that the car was in perfect working order. It must in some way have been sabotaged. Buy why, and by whom? Matt Straker, the security head of Quartech – the conglomerate that owns the Ptarmigan team – is flown in to investigate. He works alongside Sandy McMahon, a Moscow based English lawyer appointed by Quartech to defend Remy and Tahm in court. They are in a rush against time to find the truth and prepare their case. The investigations take them ever further into the murky world of Russian politics, oligarchs, and widespread corruption. The stakes get forever higher.
I confess that I picked up Crash with some slight trepidation. Formula One is not really my thing… But my fears were groundless. Yes, there is a great deal of highly technical writing about the mechanics and electronics of the car that informs the investigation (and will no doubt impress many…) – but it is possible to gloss over the detail of much of this if you so choose. What matters is that you pick up the gist of the thoroughness with which Formula One cars are electronically monitored throughout a race. The onboard cameras and sensors feed back information to team control in the pits – and further afield to team headquarters wherever they may be situated. The Ptarmigan team were unable to inspect the car itself (it was impounded by the police), but they had access to a wealth of electronic and video data.
Crash is a really exciting and gripping read. I genuinely found it hard to put down (and it’s not often I say that). The final denouement is as well constructed as it is dramatic. It is also very strong on location. Moscow comes through loud and clear from the site of the fictional Grand Prix track in the Nagatinskya Poyma Park by the Moskva River to the detail of the famed Moscow underground railway system. The city is well observed.