SPAIN'S southeastern-most stretch of beaches is known with good reason as the ‘Costa del Crime’. Between Málaga and the Gibraltar border, resort towns dot the sandy coastline, sheltering tens of thousands of seasonal tourists and more than the occasional expat desperado.
For Cristina Sánchez, this reality is part of everyday policing in Marviña.
Yet, despite the presence of these uninvited gangsters within her community, Sánchez is not expecting that a standard callout will lead to an encounter with one of Europe’s most wanted men. The incident starts as a routine response to a simple break-in, but within minutes of arriving at an upmarket development, Sánchez is embroiled in a fatal shooting.
The victim is not an officer or even a suspect, however; rather, the body crumpled awkwardly on the cold tiled floor of the villa is that of a woman who has been living there – and the person holding the gun is her English partner Ian Templeton. Having mistaken his girlfriend for an intruder, Templeton has killed her in error.
An added complication soon emerges: the shooter, Templeton, does not actually exist. Instead, this attractive, charming foreigner is the alter ego of the UK’s number one fugitive, Jack Cleland, cocaine trafficker extraordinaire and police assassin.
At home in London, Scottish-born investigator John Mackenzie is assigned to the case. The National Crime Agency needs a specialist courier. Mackenzie’s mission is to fly to Spain and return later the same day with Cleland in custody.
For Mackenzie, the timing is dreadful: the aunt who raised him is due to be buried in Glasgow, his estranged wife is working to alienate him from his son and daughter, and nightmares about his late father’s death are robbing him of a solid night’s sleep.
Now, he’s being forced to play in-flight escort to some lowlife drug lord.