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Friday 8 March 2024

MAYDAY - Book review

Nelson DeMille and Thomas Block’s air-disaster thriller Mayday is a fast-paced page-turning relentless story of suspense.

It was first published in 1979, updated in 1997 and reprinted at least ten times.

Block had assisted DeMille with aviation scenes in his debut novel By the Rivers of Babylon (1977). They were old friends and, after that collaboration, they jointly decided to write a definitive novel about the sudden decompression of a supersonic aircraft, such as Concord, travelling effectively in subspace, and Mayday was the result.

The blurb says it all: ‘Twelve miles above the Pacific Ocean, a missile strikes the Trans Flight 52, a supersonic passenger jet bound for Japan. The flight crew is crippled or dead. Now, defying both nature and man, three survivors must achieve the impossible. Land the plane.’

The missile strike is a US navy test that went wrong. Fortunately, there was no warhead. But it blasted a hole into and out of the airliner, causing the massive decompression.

The disaster is complicated by the loss of radio contact, the arrogant naval Commander Sloan who is desperate to cover up the incident, and the chicanery of the boss of Trans-United Airlines. This has the potential to ruin the airline – just as PanAm was effectively ruined by the financial fallout of the Lockerbie bombing (1988) (it filed for bankruptcy in 1991).

If you’re afraid of flying, it’s probably best to give this book a miss. If you like a high-tension edge-of-seat read, then this will satisfy.

I’ve deliberately avoided giving much in the way of character names and events as the blurb suffices as a spoiler.

DeMille never disappoints. Block has written several aviation-oriented bestsellers.

A TV-film was released in 2005. 

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