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3.9 10
by John J. Nance

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In the skies above Europe, a Boeing 737 jets toward an unknown destination. On board is John Harris—a fugitive from justice. Charged by an international accord of ordering the torture of hundreds of innocent people, he is the most wanted man in the world.
He is the former President of the United States. 
The pilot, Captain


In the skies above Europe, a Boeing 737 jets toward an unknown destination. On board is John Harris—a fugitive from justice. Charged by an international accord of ordering the torture of hundreds of innocent people, he is the most wanted man in the world.
He is the former President of the United States. 
The pilot, Captain Craig Dayton, realizes that a silent conspiracy against John Harris is taking shape, and that every moment the plane spends on the ground makes a target for his enemies—who have already condemned him for his crimes. Now, as both sides wage a war of words in the most powerful courts in the world, the only safe haven left is in the air...

Editorial Reviews

The Barnes & Noble Review
As the proclaimed master of the airplane disaster novel, John J. Nance -- the bestselling author of such well-received heart-stoppers as Blackout, Pandora's Clock, and Medusa's Child -- brings his aeronautic expertise to the field of the thriller. In Headwind, he slowly builds a story filled with great political peril and brings it to a shattering, high-flying crescendo.

After a worldwide treaty against torture is signed by nearly every nation on the planet, former U.S. president John Harris learns the hard way that he’s still a political pawn. During his presidency, a CIA-sponsored team of mercenaries attacked a Peruvian drug base, torturing and killing the innocent families forced to labor on and process the narcotics. Now the president of Peru is looking to embarrass the United States by making an example of Harris.

The commercial jet Harris is on has just landed in Athens when the Greek police attempt to serve an Interpol warrant for his arrest. Captain Craig Dayton, pilot of the Boeing 737, realizes that Harris has been set up for execution and makes a dangerous, unauthorized takeoff. Attempting to find refuge in Italy, Dayton and Harris learn that all of Europe will enforce the warrant and that no place on the continent is safe for them. Via cell phone, the ex-president hires Jay Reinhart, a noted international lawyer, to fight the warrant and find him a safe haven. Reinhart is forced to battle the brilliant Sir Stuart Campbell, an old enemy who represents Peru in the World Court.

Though some parallels to the Harrison Ford blockbuster Air Force One are bound to be made, Nance manages to use similar elements to a much different advantage. The jet itself becomes a symbolic prison for all onboard as fear and claustrophobia set in. Each new country initially appears as a possible haven, but as successive runways are closed to the lost flight the white-knuckle tension becomes even greater. With fuel running out, the passengers are forced to confront the idea that their very fate is being determined in a courtroom thousands of miles away. Headwind is a gripping, international action story that will chill and enliven readers whether on the ground or in the air. (Tom Piccirilli)

Tom Piccirilli is the author of eight novels, including Hexes and Shards, and his Felicity Grove mystery series, consisting of The Dead Past and Sorrow's Crown. He has sold more than 100 stories to the anthologies Future Crimes, Bad News, The Conspiracy Files, and Best of the American West II. An omnibus collection of 40 stories titled Deep into That Darkness Peering is also available. Tom divides his time between New York City and Estes Park, Colorado.

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The real-life Pinochet extradition case inspires this international legal thriller peppered with bestselling author Nance's (Blackout, etc.) trademark razor-edge escape scenarios and death-defying aviation theatrics. Peru charges that former U.S. President John Harris ordered the brutal slaughter of peasant families by Shining Path mercenaries on a CIA-led raid on a Peruvian drug factory, in violation of the recently ratified International Treaty Against Torture. Powerful British lawyer Sir William Stuart Campbell takes Peru's case and, with a personal grudge to avenge, plans for the immediate arrest and extradition of the former president, who is on board a German commercial airline about to leave Athens. Tipped off by an American stewardess, the American and British pilots fake a hijacking and run for Rome, only to learn that warrants are waiting at every European airport. From the plane, Harris calls Jay Reinhart, a brilliant former law partner who was booted off the Texas bench, and gets him to take on Campbell's formidable team. While Reinhart jousts with Campbell in foreign courts, the pilots evade warrants by staying airborne with one stop at an American military base for refueling, playing nifty tricks that fool police, air traffic towers and their own company executives. Nance gets in jabs at diplomatic scuttling of military actions and sets up the David vs. Goliath legal battle with aplomb. Hair-raising near-disaster in the air, high courtroom drama and a strong international cast of characters make this surefire bestseller a nonstop read, with gut-wrenching twists that leave the reader scrabbling for a parachute. (Apr.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
In another timely thriller, aviation expert Nance places a former U.S. President in jeopardy of arrest on Interpol charges of conspiracy and torture in violation of a human rights treaty. The fast pace of the novel, read by the author, depends on always-available cell phones, satellite lines, and the maneuvers of a Boeing 737 air crew trying to protect ex-President John Harris as the intrigue and the jet move from Athens to Rome to Sicily to London to Dublin. Meanwhile, Harris's outmatched lawyer attempts to orchestrate a rescue or suppress the warrant and extradition. The carefully constructed international chess game between this legal David and Goliath is well balanced with the aviation action. The romantic subplot is the most predictable part of an otherwise engaging moral tale. Recommended. Joyce Kessel, Villa Maria Coll., Buffalo, NY Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
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 endlesslandingfields 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.

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Penguin Publishing Group
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14 Years

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Gate 35, Athens International Airport, Greece -Monday -2:00 P.M.

"Captain, I think you'd better get back here!"

The chief flight attendant said as she burst into the cockpit. Captain Craig Dayton snapped his head around and began reaching for his seat belt as soon as he saw the worried expression on Jillian Walz's face.

"What's the matter?" Dayton asked, aware that his copilot had shifted around in the right seat to look at her as well.

Jillian shut the door and stood in the tiny space aft of the center console, breathing hard and signaling him to wait. She watched a police car pull up on the ramp of the newly opened airport and stop in front of their Boeing 737, its blue lights flashing. Dayton followed her gaze and spotted the patrol car.

"We're about to get in the middle of a diplomatic crisis," Jillian said. "The gate agent ..."

A voice on the overhead speakers cut her short. "Flight forty-two, operations."

The copilot lifted his handheld microphone. "Go ahead, ops."

"We will have to hold you at the gate for a while, forty-two."

"Why?" the copilot asked sharply, noting the arrival of a second police car on the ramp.

"Forty-two, there is an of official order ...ah ...wait, please ..."

The microphone in the operations of office remained on while urgent voices conferred in the background. "Ah ...we will have to remove some of your passengers."

Jillian nodded rapidly, her words tumbling out. "Craig, they're here to arrest President Harris!"

Craig Dayton clasped Jillian's right elbow as he searched her eyes. "Slow down, Jillian, and tell me precisely whatyou're talking about."

The day had started in Istanbul with the exciting news that a former President of the United States would be riding with them in first class through Athens to Rome. Fresh from delivering a speech to an international conference on hunger, President John B. Harris had come aboard with an attractive young female aide and an appropriately dour Secret Service agent, greeting the crew warmly at the door and even sticking his head into the cockpit to say hello. Impeccably groomed, and wearing a well-tailored dark business suit that made him seem taller than his five-foot-ten height, Harris had proven to be as friendly and gracious as the Washington press corps had always described him during his almost legendary single term in office.

"Our agent ...gate agent ...I know her," Jillian was saying. "She came down the jetway all upset and said the Greek government has a warrant for his arrest."

"Why? What for?"

She shook her head, creating a moving blur of chestnut hair. "She didn't know."

First Officer Alastair Chadwick whistled and inclined his head toward the ramp, where a third and fourth police car had parked, all with their top lights flashing frantically. "Something's definitely up, mate."

"This is a foreign flagged airliner," Dayton said. "No one's removing any passenger without my permission." He motioned to Jillian to reopen the cockpit door as he moved the captain's seat back on its tracks and prepared to get up, filling the air with the aroma of peanuts as the contents of an opened snack pouch scattered on the metal floor.


"I'll take care of that," Jillian said..

The copilot caught his arm.

"Craig, you remember I'm a solicitor in my other life in England, right?"

"Yes, I know," Craig said, his eyes on Jillian as she stepped out.

"A little free legal advice, okay? You're an American national with a European work visa, you're the master of a German flagged airliner, and that airliner is currently sitting on Greek concrete. You're not the U.S. ambassador. They could arrest you for getting in the way."

The captain shook his head impatiently. "This is Greece, Alastair. They've been civilized for at least a few ears now. About two or three thousand, in fact."

"Craig?" Chadwick tightened his grip on the captain's arm, and Dayton responded with irritation.


"Be careful, okay? I know he's your President, but you can't protect him."

"No?" There was a flurry of movement as Craig Dayton resumed the process of hauling himself out of the seat." Just watch me!"

Meet the Author

John J. Nance, aviation analyst for ABC News and a familiar face on Good Morning America, is the author of several bestselling novels including Fire Flight, Skyhook, Turbulence, and Orbit. Two of his novels, Pandora’s Clock and Medusa’s Child, have been made into highly successful television miniseries. A lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Air Force Reserve, Nance is a decorated pilot veteran of Vietnam and Operations Desert Storm/Desert Shield. He lives in Washington State.

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Headwind 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
Ruthless More than 1 year ago
This is the first book I've read by this author. It grabbed my interested fast and kept it to the end.
Marcy Soto More than 1 year ago
Have read it more than once. Very good.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Guest More than 1 year ago
Read this book a while back. I really enjoyed it. The first chapter alone got me going when I read how they pushed back from the gate. Awsome book!
Guest More than 1 year ago
A page turner.....if you love aviation, or are just a passenger, this will make for enjoyable reading. Nance captures the technology of aviation and blends it into a tapestry of an interesting plot.
Guest More than 1 year ago
A great idea about a former president accused of an international crime completely lacks drama. A great idea that gets lost in a predictable plot, unimaginative twists and unreaistic dialogue. Plus, Nance seems more concerned with bragging about his aviation knowledge than explaining the details needed to follw the story. And the romantic sidebar was just plain absurd. A big disappointment.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Johhn Nance does an excellent job of building suspense around airplanes. It is always pleasurable to read his books, knowing that he is an aviator, and his facts will be correct. Bravo on another good book.
harstan More than 1 year ago

Apr 2001

After giving a speech on world hunger, retired President John Harris flies from Istanbul to Rome with a stop in Athens. However, at the airport, the Greek police try to serve an international warrant filed by the head of Peru against the former President insisting he violated the Treaty Against Torture while in office by sanctioning CIA acts of violence against innocent people. Pilot Craig Dayton realizes the former President is in danger and makes a daring unauthorized take-off before the police arrest Harris. International lawyer, Sir William Stuart Campbell represents the Peruvian government in the World Court. William has a personal grudge against John and goes all out to nail the former world leader. The pilot, the president, and his attorney seek a nation that will provide a safe and fair hearing, not yet realizing the drama that will unfold when they select that country.

As action thrillers go, John J. Nance typically writes some of the genre¿s best works. His setting of an airplane for his story line produces chills even for those readers who enjoy flying. For those who fear the air the background provides tremors. The characters including the President, are three dimensional and complex adding to the feel of a thriller. HEADWIND is top gun material and sure to place Mr. Nance on all the best-selling lists.

Harriet Klausner