x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Book review: a true story of cheating death

The story of the survivors of a plane crash in snow-draped wilderness

Such is the dramatic nature of Carol Shaben's new book - which recounts the fatal final journey of a small commuter plane in October 1984 on a treacherous night in northern Canada - it could easily be a work of fiction.

There is no greater compliment one could pay Shaben, a journalist and broadcaster, who marshals her characters with the engaging and easy style of a best-selling writer of thrillers.

Ten people were aboard the passenger plane when it ditched in appalling weather in the snow-draped wilderness outside High Prairie, Alberta. Only four survived, including Erik Vogel, the plane's stressed-out and overstretched young pilot and Larry Shaben, the author's father, who was a prominent local politician at the time (born in Lebanon, Shaben would later become the first Muslim to serve in a provincial Canadian legislative assembly). The other two who crawled to safety were Scott Deschamps, a police officer, and Paul Archambault, a petty criminal and drifter, who was in his custody when the plane went down.

What emerges from this bleak scene are the remarkable stories of these men's lives and the impact this crash would have on them for years to come.

* Nick March