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Charters, Charlie - 'Bolt Action'
Paperback: 400 pages (Sep. 2010) Publisher: Hodder Paperbacks ISBN: 1444700979

This is one of the best and most thrilling first books from a promising new author, that I've read in some time. Basically, it is a story of a Pakistan International Airways, Boeing 777 Jet airliner flying across the Atlantic from Manchester Airport, England to JFK, New York. An Al-Qaeda inspired steward, tricks his way into the pilots' cockpit laden with poisoned drinks for the aircrew who are thus killed and then the assailant takes a drug himself and slumps to the floor. Since 9/11, the door between the pilots and the passengers on an airliner must be locked and is impossible to break down. As the aircraft is on autopilot for the most of its journey it won't be for some time that the rest of the crew and the passengers will be alerted to their ultimate fate. Recorded messages making various Al-Qaeda demands are sent to the authorities in New York and London. The US President authorises the despatch of two US Air Force missile laden Super Hornet Jet Fighters, to escort the plane. They have the ultimate possibility of shooting it down if necessary. Some of the recorded messages sent by the Muslim militants have been received by TV stations and upon re-broadcast have caused uproar and chaos, particularly in the Middle East. A typical example is as follows:

"..Pakistan International Airways Boeing 777 Jet hijacked and 300 Muslim innocent passengers to be slaughtered by Infidel War-planes. 90 females. 40 children."

Angry relatives of the passengers are causing lots of anti-US demonstrations, in many cities across the globe, to try to stop the airliner from being shot down. Very worrying for the US President and other political leaders. He tries to get the Canadians to support him but without success. Passengers on the hijacked airliner have heard via mobile phones of the unfolding tragedy and this causes absolute anxiety and anger in the economy passenger cabin.

The rest of the book deals with explaining the circumstances of why two ex-parachute regiment soldiers and an ex-officer are the only passengers travelling in first class that day and how their help will be needed if the possible crash is to be averted. It also details how the CIA learnt of the plot days before it occurred but had great difficulty in alerting the appropriate authorities. It is very tightly plotted and enormously exciting, a real page turner which caused me one sleepless night before I was able reach the dramatic conclusion. The tension is relieved by a lot of humour and it was one of those books which one did not want to finish. I hope we are given the opportunity of reading further books from this outstanding new mystery author, and soon.

Terry Halligan, England
September 2010

More European crime fiction reviews can be found on the Reviews page.

last updated 24/09/2010 16:21