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Red Zone
by Alan McTeer

Category: Fiction / General
302 pages; ISBN: 096718519X

Rating: 8/10  (Ratings explained)
Reviewer: Norman Goldman


After reading first time novelist Alan McTeer’s thriller Red Zone, you will scratch your head and wonder what part of the story is true and what part was embellished?
According to the back cover of the book, it is a novel based on events that actually happened to the author.

The tale focuses on Canadian pilot, Alan Richards, who agrees to deliver a small plane to Colombia, collect a delivery fee and return to Miami on a regular airliner.
However, as we all are probably aware, when someone agrees to deliver a plane to Colombia, bells invariably go off and we ask ourselves: “ is something rotten in the State of Denmark?”

To add to our suspicion, when the principle protagonist shows up at the airstrip with his co-pilot, Mario, he is informed that he will be taking along with him two extra Colombian passengers. Although, initially refusing and even questioning what they are carrying, our protagonist agrees to transport these two individuals, who are supposedly representatives of the owners of the plane.

The plane is finally airborne, and unfortunately, due to a fire caused by the two Colombian passengers, crashes and burns in Colombia.
What is frightening is that they wind up in the Guajira-“not the best part of South America to be in.”
It is here, where an area known as “Zona Rojo” or “Red Zone,” is located, and where there are 200 miles of restricted air space all around it.
Certainly no Club-Med, when you consider that it is known as a haven for drug smugglers and every other kind of criminal.

Unfortunately, McTeer’s two principal characters are subjected to some very brutal beatings administered by the local law enforcement authorities.
The concept of “due process” does not seem to be part of their vocabulary, and our two pilots are subjected to the savageness of the Colombian justice system. Something you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy!

After spending some very unpleasant weeks, to put it mildly, in this hell- hole, our two pilots, with the aid of some very dubious attorneys, find their way to Venezuela. However, they are now captives of a very unsavory character, who has ties to some of the world’s most dangerous drug criminals.

McTeer weaves a good tale, and his skill at plain -spoken reportage provides a vivid account of his horrific experiences.
Engaging characters combined with a wicked sense of humor, make for some very entertaining reading, bordering at times on burlesque.
The novel’s conclusion is far from trite, and in fact, somewhat of a surprise. Perhaps, our author has a sequence in mind?

This review first appeared on the reviewer's own site:


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