Luke Davies: God of Speed

The book opens in 1973 with Howard Hughes, enigma and twentieth-century icon, hidden from the world in a London hotel room, where he sits in bed waiting for the dawn and a meeting with an old friend. Now tended to by Mormon carers, this rare intrusion into Hughes’s secluded, strictly controlled and drug subdued life causes him to reflect on his past; from his childhood, struggling against the bonds imposed by his over-protective mother, his early inheritance of the family empire, through to the decades of his breakneck charge to notoriety.

As history now records, Hughes’s life was increasingly troubled by obsessive compulsive disorder, and it was this that drove him to extraordinary lengths to be master of all he saw. Hughes is a man who lives very much in the world: every sight, sound and smell is keenly felt and requires attention, his life a barely controlled maelstrom of experience. No aspect is without minute attention, whether it be perfecting his planes, designing a bra for a well-endowed film star or being a leader of men. And of course, there were the women –dozens of them – who Hughes relentlessly pursued, no less a part of his condition than any other of his habits. Davies’ novel is a fascinating and intimate insight into the mind of a great and deeply disturbed man, told with a thoroughly convincing voice.