There you are enjoying a birthday treat in a hot air balloon. You drift across the rooftops that are the quintessence of Regency Bath in rural England. Why would someone want to shoot you down? How is a hot air balloon shot down?
This unusual and graphic beginning leads to a lethal hide-and-seek adventure in the Mediterranean; Erica is the feisty redhead in trouble. It is up to her to get sorted and survive, even if it means ditching a weak boyfriend for a tough bit of rough, although people are not what they seem.
Underlying the scary events is a criminal family whose specialism grew from money laundering to people laundering - a multinational bad company. Seeing suspicious men behind every olive tree and distrusting the police, Erica learned to use the methodology of the villains against them in order to survive and seek justice, ironic justice.
All Erica Steadway wants is her hot-air balloon gift flight with champagne picnic, but from the opening lines to the closing intense and original ending, Erica gets nothing she either expects or wants. Chased by an organization that wants to kill her for something seen while drifting over the English countryside in the balloon, unaware and unsure of who to trust, smart, resilient, beautiful and determined, she fights through every single page of this masterpiece of a modern English thriller to stay alive and sane.
British author, Geoff Nelder, has accomplished the seemingly impossible. This book is really, really good. Suspense is high, the sex scenes are well written and integral to the story, not just thrown in for the titillation factor, and no one among the new authors today has got the delicate touch and the black, twisted humour of Geoff Nelder. He writes the King’s English with grace and precision. And he knows how to construct a thriller, making no mistakes in either pacing or plot. In short he tells a hell of a story in clear and beautiful prose.
I am not normally a fan of thrillers. I much prefer Nelder’s ingeniously crafted ghost stories that have the feel of MR James between their luscious lines, but even I could appreciate Hot Air for what it is .... one heck of a fine thriller and one hell of great rollercoaster ride! It's a book that's very hard to put down and one that deserves a sequel.
M. Kenyon Charboneaux a novelist, tutor and editor living in the USA
Read an Excerpt
With surprising noise, the envelope filled. They had no fear of heights, depths or velocity; thriving on adrenaline. Even so, they had lumps in their throats as they scrambled inside the basket. With a seesaw sway they were up and away. Within moments she saw the three-man ground crew receding.
Erica let her eyes take in the grandeur of Bath’s Royal Crescent. The limestone frontage gave way to grey slate roofing.
'Great detail, though I thought we'd be higher,' Paul said.
'Yeah, there's not much privacy down there.'
Then a grumble from the pilot: 'There'll be less if we can't get some more lift. There’s a downdraught I didn't expect. Don't worry, when we pass over that garden I'll drop some sand ballast.'
Luckily no sunbathers, so a few kilos of sand added to the lawn and some into a pond. Further opening of the valve on the burner increased their altitude.
Whereas every building looked a creamy yellow from ground level, a mosaic of colours from lawns, roofs and roads entertained their eyes from above.
'Look at the variety of chimney tops,' said Paul, snapping away.
'Just look at the way they’re getting bigger,' said Erica.
Derek frowned. 'Yeah, we're still not gaining enough height.'
In London, Harry’s grey pencil moustache twitched and his cold grey eyes stared at the phone as it danced to its own tune.
'Harry, you mustn't do it,' nagged his daughter.
'You know nothing about this, Angie.'
'Enough. Now promise.'
'I knew you'd understand, Harry.' She'd always called him by his first name.
Harry couldn't help a twisting smile, as another deception worked.
The other duplicity of the morning was to give some unpleasant instructions to his operatives in Somerset.