Douglas Schofield is a Canadian-educated lawyer who lives in Grand Cayman.
Flight Risks is a fast-paced, snappy thriller that hurtles through the
worlds of law, finance, politics and family. The main character, Grace
Palliser, works for a law firm in Victoria, and while she is battling an
ex-husband for custody of her five-year-old daughter Sherry, Grace is also
trying to cope with a powerful attraction to tranquillizers.
The drug problem has lost Grace her child and her boyfriend, and it nearly
scuttles her job as a legal secretary. She is digging her way out of her
personal hell when things go completely sideways at work, and Grace finds
herself on the run – from the police and the bad guys, whoever they are.
Schofield has obviously spent time in Victoria, and he uses local colour
effectively, apart from a couple of fumbles. Islanders do not refer to the
‘upper’ Island, nor is Swans in downtown Victoria called the Swan Hotel by
locals. But many other details of place will be instantly familiar to
Victoria residents, and the other locations used – Vancouver, Langley,
Atlanta, Florida, and Grand Cayman – add to the overall realistic effect.
Schofield also makes wonderful use of differing time frames. Grace’s own
childhood comes back to her in terrifying nightmares, and her desire to be
reunited with her daughter is utterly believable and poignant. The present
of the novel is 2001, after the attacks on the World Trade Center and the
Pentagon. But just as Grace’s personal past affects the novel, so do
How Schofield winds everything together is marvellous. He keeps readers
enthralled in the chase by developing Grace as an enormously resourceful and
courageous figure, whose primary goal is to get her daughter back. To do so,
she realizes she must clear her name, and the one person she trusts
completely is the person she is accused of murdering. Fortunately she has a
few other people, including the relatives of a young aboriginal man who was
wrongly on trial for murder, on whom she can count. But a tall beautiful
woman on the run is a clear target, and eluding police and the killer
chasing her is a monumental task.
For much of the novel, readers know who some of the bad guys are (and one
is a violent piece of nasty work), so part of the enjoyment is watching
Grace’s attempts to keep ahead of them. Grace’s perseverance gets her into
some terrible situations, and the body count rises as the novel progresses.
The resolution, while something of a surprise, is absolutely satisfying.
Schofield’s prose is direct, competent, and thoughtful: “Grace knew the
pathways to wise decisions and stupid ones were roughly similar. The
difference lay in the complex rationalisations required to validate a bad
As Assistant Solicitor General with the Cayman Islands government,
Schofield is no doubt aware of the power of language, and he wields words
forcefully. His legal knowledge gives verisimilitude to Grace’s job, and the
problems of violence and prejudice are explored on both the individual
and global scale.
January 2, 2011