Out of the Clouds of Deceit

Written by David Canning
Review by Sarah Newman

In 1948, while training to fly bombers in the RAF, Aiden forms a friendship with another pilot, Dennis. Shortly before completing their training, Dennis is killed in a dreadful accident. But their uncommonly close friendship has been crucial in the development of Aiden’s character. Dennis’ death proves an urgent propellant for Aiden to marry Margaret, who soon becomes pregnant. Aiden takes part in Operation Grapple in the Pacific, testing Britain’s hydrogen bombs by flying an air-sampling aircraft through the mushroom clouds. By this time, Aiden and Margaret’s marriage has become strained. However, when provoked by Margaret, Aiden discovers that there is something powerful and dark both in his love for Margaret and in his love for his son.

Aiden eventually retires from flying and they achieve domestic harmony, but having been exposed to radiation during Operation Grapple, a sudden health diagnosis threatens their peaceful lives.

Out of the Clouds of Deceit is a sensitively-written book. It is as a realistic portrayal of an ordinary man, Aiden, who spends his life coming to terms with his identity, sometimes in extraordinary situations. It is a story that delves into the mind of a self-conscious man doing an extremely dangerous job, and how he, and other men in his field, came to terms with that. It also focuses on Aiden’s thoughts on what it is to be a man in contemporary society.

There are some beautiful descriptions of everyday things, such as the way people move, or create facial expressions, but at times I felt they were overly-thorough and consequently a little tiresome. However, they were consistent with a character who spends time dissecting his own, and interpreting other people’s, actions and emotions.

As the author simply puts it, “my novel is a celebration of the ordinary”.