A Book Spy Review: ‘Dead on Arrival’ by Matt Richtel


Heading into Steamboat Springs, Colorado, Captain Eleanor Hall and her co-pilot manage to land Delta Flight 194 safely without any word from air traffic control. While they believe that a disaster was averted, things are about to get much worse. 

The relief from landing safely is short-lived. Outside the airplane, it’s clear everyone is dead. Members of the airport’s ground crew lay dead on the runway, with no obvious cause of death. That, however, is just the tip of the iceberg. 

Worried, Eleanor turns to one of her passengers, a washed-up infectious disease expert named Doctor Lyle Martin, for help. 

Martin was once a rising star in his field, but has since experienced a career decline. He and the two pilots discuss their options from the safety of the cockpit. Upon exiting the cockpit, the trio are both stunned and terrified to learn that whatever killed everyone outside of the plane has also claimed the lives of nearly everyone on-board. 

Obviously, a lethal virus of some sort is running rampant. Previously, Martin thought he’d seen everything, but nothing in his career compares to whatever this is. The symptoms are odd, and he cannot figure out why the virus–whatever or whoever created it–hasn’t affected him, Captain Hall, or her co-pilot, Jerry. 

The biggest question of all is are they better off staying on the plane or exiting and investigating things further? 

Matt Richtel, a Pulitzer Prize–winning New York Times reporter, does a fine job presenting things in a realistic way, delivering a plausible plot that makes the entire reading experience more terrifying. The bulk of Martin’s character development takes place in flashback scenes, which, at times, borderline on being choppy. Things level out in the end, though, and readers–while there is a lot of information to take in–will be unable to put Richtel’s book down until they find out how it ends.

Falling somewhere between Michael Crichton and Stephen King, Dead on Arrival is a terrifying new thriller from Matt Richtel that is as good as it is scary. A surprise twist hits hard at the end, providing something for readers to think about–a message that’ll stay with you beyond the final page.  

Book Details

Author: Matt Richtel
Pages: 368 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 0062443275
Publisher: William Morrow
Release Date: August 1, 2017
Book Spy Rating: 6.0/10
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