Flight of the Phoenix

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 06 February, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 06 February, 2005, 12:00am

Flight of the Phoenix

by Elleston Trevor

Harper $67

This is Lord of the Flies for grown-up lovers of airport thrillers. Twelve men, returning from the Libyan oilfields, survive a plane crash, but face a slow, agonising death in the Sahara Desert. Two have the skills to avert their terrible fate: Stringer, a young, arrogant engineer who has figured out a way to cobble together a smaller plane from the wreckage of the original; and the tormented pilot Frank Towns, who blames himself for the crash. Bitter enemies, they must now work together to escape. Also among the survivors are Trucker Cobb, a chief driller sent home from the fields because he's losing his mind; Captain Harris, a gung-ho, by-the-book, British officer; and Harris' less enthusiastic underlings. As thirst, starvation, exposure, madness and desperation settle in, the men turn on one another.