• Orange flames rise from the lefthand corner of the page to reach up towards a muted blue forest and the Tracker firefighting plane, soaring just above the tree tops. “Uncontrolled Flight a novel Frances Peck” set in large type stands at the forefront of the image. An orange blurb in the top left corner reads: “A fast-paced arc that leaves you both afraid of what’s inevitably coming and yet unable to look away.” Russell Wangersky, author of Burning Down the House.

Uncontrolled Flight


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978-1-77439-075-7 | 2023 September | 400 Pages


Wildfire season in the British Columbia Interior. Experienced firefighting pilot Rafe Mackie loses control of his airplane while doing a routine drop and plummets to his death.

The investigation that follows unleashes revelations that forever change the lives of three people: Will, the pilot who watches his mentor crash; Sharon, the widow struggling to come to terms with her loss; and Nathalie, an accident investigator with shadowy connections to the incident. As a form of the truth emerges, these three are drawn into a tangle of secrets and lies, passion and grief, blame and forgiveness that forces them to confront the actions that brought one man’s life crashing down.

In her second novel, Frances Peck creates another explosive literary page-turner, one that probes love, loyalty, and the ways we try to conceal and redeem our lives.

Uncontrolled Flight is a compelling read overloaded with turbulence—emotional, historical, and literal. Peck masterfully braids three strong and divergent voices into a robust narrative urged forward by the burning landscape and the mysterious, simmering ambitions of her complex characters. As I read, I found myself switching allegiances many times and questioning the choices we all have to make under obvious and invisible pressures.”
— Tara McGuire, author of Holden After and Before

“Compelling from start to finish. Tangled webs ... well woven.”
— Dave Paddon, storyteller, author and retired commercial pilot

“Masterfully crafted, with a complex cast of flawed and wholly relatable characters, Peck skillfully weaves multiple narratives into a riveting story that is part tragedy, part mystery—and totally impossible to put down.”
— J.T. Siemens, author of the Sloane Donovan mystery series 

“In Uncontrolled Flight Frances Peck skilfully navigates a taut tale of fire-fighting pilots, air crash investigators, and dangerously spiralling lives against authentically-drawn BC settings.  Her characters: tough, damaged Nathalie; young, compromised Will; and heart-broken Sharon gleam with originality and passion. As they careen through the loss of the heroic man who connects them all, their lives break open to reveal dark secrets and betrayals, but also treasures of courage, loyalty, and inspiring human potential for growth.”
— Karen Hofmann, author of What is Going to Happen Next and A Brief View from the Coastal Suite

Uncontrolled Flight is just what the title suggests: a fast-paced arc that leaves you both afraid of what’s inevitably coming and yet unable to look away. Its deft complexity is like the aircraft so central to its storyline — seemingly simple on the outside, yet packed full of connecting parts that all play a crucial role in the unfolding plot. It captures the conflicting feelings of those facing horror and loss inordinately well.”
— Russell Wangersky, award-winning author of Burning Down the House: Fighting Fires and Losing Myself and Whirl Away

“Frances Peck's new novel, Uncontrolled Flight is so compelling and accomplished it's easy to forget that it's only her second. Uncontrolled Flight is a beautifully paced, intimate look at the 2013 BC wildfires, and the casually courageous aerial firefighters who risked their lives attempting to control  them. As in her debut novel, The Broken Places, Peck's character's voices are as multidimensional as ever- I flew through the pages, enjoying all the nuance of their thoughts and desires. Peck's descriptions of BC and note perfect dialogue are equally precise. I can't recommend this book or her writing highly enough.”
— Danila Botha, author of Things that Cause Inappropriate Happiness, and For All the Men (and Some of the Women) I've Known

Uncontrolled Flight begins with a plane crash that sets off a complex, emotional ride. At turns tense, sexy, and heartbreaking, each page drops us deeper into the world of Rafe, the experienced pilot who seemed to have it all, and the loved ones left grappling to understand what went wrong, who to blame, and who to protect. As their stories converge, guilt and resentments, secrets and lies, twist into a knot that no reader could stand to leave alone.”
— Genevieve Scott, Author of The Damages 

“Buckle up, because the seat belt sign will be on throughout Frances Peck’s new novel, Uncontrolled Flight. ...What caused an experienced ace pilot like Rafe to crash his plane when the weather was ideal and the fire conditions didn’t warrant it? The answer unfolds like an incredibly complex origami sculpture, keeping the reader turning the pages eager for the answers as much as the characters are...”
— Cathalynn Labonté-Smith, The Miramichi Reader (full review)

“[A]n absorbing, intense contemporary tale... Peck does so many things well in this thoroughly researched novel—the well-drawn albeit flawed characters, the crisp dialogue, the tension-filled plot. It’s an edifying and timely story that undoubtedly will linger in the minds of many readers.” 
— Bev Sandell Greenberg, Winnipeg Free Press (full review)

“Peck handles the mystery with subtlety...There’s an unpredictability to the twists that make Uncontrolled Flight feel fresh. Once revealed, the mystery and betrayal feel like water dumping on a fire—ice cold.” 
— Caileigh Broatch, The British Columbia Review (full review)

“Like her electrifying debut, The Broken Places, which traced the wild actions and emotional states of a handful of Vancouverites after a disastrous earthquake, Uncontrolled Flight reveals an expert hand directing cinematic action sequences. Happily, the same hand also happens to excel at delving into the messy, very human drama that unfolds.”
— Brett Josef Grubisic, Vancouver Sun (full review)