cover of first edition
|Publisher||House of Stratus|
|Media type||Print (Hardcover & Paperback)|
|Preceded by||The Golden Keel|
|Followed by||Wyatt's Hurricane|
A small, passenger plane is hijacked by its co-pilot over the Andes mountain range in South America causing a crash landing in which the hijacker dies. Unknown to the pilot and other passengers, among their number is Senor Aguilla, the former president of the country, and his niece, who were returning to the country under a pseudonym. Aguilla had been deposed by a military coup, and now a communist faction wants him dead since they fear he will be a problem for a communist takeover of the country.The pilot, O'Hara, attempts to lead the survivors (two businessmen, the ex-president, his bodyguard and his niece, a school teacher, and two academics) down the mountain because of altitude sickness and freezing temperatures, but finds the way blocked by a damaged bridge, the opposing end of which is held by the communist faction.
While the majority of the passengers remain nearby to maintain the stand-off with the communists, two set off to cross the mountains to reach elements of the country's air force which have remained loyal to Aguilla and bring help. The ‘citadel′ at which the siege is maintained becomes increasingly threatened as reinforcements for the villains arrive with prefabricated materials to repair the bridge and storm the position. A medieval historian and an engineer among the survivors manufacture a variety of weapons to prolong the siege as the novel reaches its climax.
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