HEADWIND by John J. Nance

HEADWIND

KIRKUS REVIEW

Retired Air Force pilot Nance shows the same skill at guiding a thriller through white-knuckle weather as he did as a civilian landing a 737.

The titles of Nance's fiction (Blackout (2000), etc.) are usually a declaration of the particular hardship a pilot may face against overwhelming odds. This time, the titular headwind doesn't show up until the last 50 pages and isn't really meteorological but instead the power of legal headwinds a lawyer faces while guiding an airline pilot through his storm of difficulties in landing anywhere in Europe. Most nations have signed a world Treaty Against Torture, but, during US President (now ex-President) John Harris's tenure, a CIA-sponsored group of mercenaries invaded a drug base in Peru and tortured—then killed—drug workers and their families. President Miraflores of Peru has signed an Interpol Warrant for the arrest of Harris when his commercial jet lands in Athens. Piloting is Captain Craig Dayton, still a major in the Air Force reserve. Dayton knows that if arrested Harris will be held in a Greek jail, then bounced to Lima for a show trial and execution (by burning, as it happens). So, essentially, he hijacks his own jet and its hundred-odd passengers and flies off to Rome. But the Interpol arrant is in effect all over Europe and there's no place Dayton can land without surrendering his ex-Commander in Chief. Meanwhile, by cell phone, Harris hires Jay Reinhart, a brilliant international lawyer with a checkered past, to stay the warrants and get him safely back to the States. Reinhart fights against devilishly slick international lawyer Stuart Campbell, who represents Peru and chases after the fleeing jet as it approaches endless landing fields where it can't land. The first big showdown is in court, where swords will clash before an Irish judge.

Hugely entertaining: a gripper that not only battles heavy headwinds while fuel runs low but plunges you headfirst into a meat-grinder of international legal complexities.

Pub Date: April 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-399-14713-6
Page count: 400pp
Publisher: Putnam
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1st, 2001




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