Airside by James Swallow: A twisting and turning tale of espionage, murder and blackmail - book review –
Stranded at a remote airport in Germany after missing his flight during a storm, he’s at rock bottom until he discovers a hidden bag with two million euros in cash inside it. Does he hand it over to the authorities… or has he stumbled on the answer to all his problems?
Fresh from his smart, classy, high-octane Marc Dane series – must-reading for discerning espionage and action fans – BAFTA-nominated scriptwriter and bestselling author, James Swallow, returns with a heart-pounding, standalone thriller featuring a desperate man with a difficult choice.
Fascinating, addictive and with a ‘be careful what you wish for’ motif, Swallow’s story threads back to when he was working on a project that involved extensive air travel and the germ of an idea took root during the long hours spent in airports and on airliners.
Harnessing that insular, no-man’s-land quality of airport departure lounges – the ‘anticipation, anxiety and boredom’ of being captured ‘in a big glass box’ – Swallow’s imagination takes flight on a thrill trip that will leave readers gasping for air.
Engineer and businessman Kevin Tyler’s life is imploding. He has spent the last six months travelling backwards and forwards to set up a deal to open an office in northern Germany, risking everything he owns to push the project through.
But on his current visit, and at the last possible moment, his partners reneged on the agreement when another organisation swept in with a better offer. Left high and dry, consumed by guilt, and with a ‘giddy trickle of pain building between his eyes,’ Kevin feels that everything has gone wrong with his life.
His marriage to Sadie is over, his beloved daughter Maddie is far away, studying in New York, and he knows he is going home to bankruptcy and an uncertain future. And to add insult to injury, an overbooked flight at Barsbeker airport sees him bumped off the last plane home and left behind to wait out a storm until the next departure the following morning.
Sitting in the airside zone of the backwater airport, Kevin’s luck seems to have run out until he visits the toilets and finds a bag containing two million euros in used notes. Should he hand in the cash… or does he stuff as many wads of notes into his pockets as he can and return home with enough money to change his life forever?
What he doesn’t yet know is that the stash of euros is part of a conspiracy of blackmail and murder involving corrupt politician Lars Von Kassel and a ruthless Serbian wheeler-dealer Oleg Gorod (who never enters a room without knowing who to kill if he needs to get out) and his tough and wily Polish sidekick Sasha.
And the problem for Kevin is that they are vicious, they are unforgiving and they are willing to do anything to keep the money…
Swallow is an expert at pumping up the action, and this gripping, twisting and turning tale of espionage, murder and blackmail fires up from a standing start to a fast-moving, unstoppable juggernaut of nail-biting tension, deadly danger and bone-crunching action.
Starring a superbly drawn cast of characters – from the beleaguered, down-on-his-luck Kevin to the seriously bad and brutal Oleg Gorad, and his enigmatic Polish henchwoman Sasha – Airside is an exhilarating, freewheeling fest of drama, violence and intrigue.
Buzzing from start to finish with visually stunning action sequences, the menace and tension that mark out Swallow’s thrillers, and with a climax as explosive as you would expect from the creator of the Marc Dane series, this is a high stakes game you wouldn’t want to miss!
(Welbeck, paperback, £8.99)