Triple V Publishing is pleased to announce the publication of Ice Slide, the debut thriller from Anton Espe.
Ron Wilder’s Gulfstream flames out over a remote Norwegian lake. He’s got a prisoner on board and his routine flight just turned into the worst day of his life. Sheriff Jonas Gessen can only hope to pick up the pieces. If he can keep everyone alive.
A Jonas Gessen thriller.
Preview the first three chapters below
Alicia heard the plane in the distance and stepped down from the cabin’s veranda onto the clean snow to get a better look. Planes came over sometimes, and occasionally one of them would even land at the airfield a few miles away. Emma had told her that they never came when the snow was this deep.
Looking back over the cabin’s roof, into the wide and almost clear sky, Alicia saw a long puffy contrail. Definitely not this plane. The jets traveling to North America were always so high they were invisible, simply leaving their silent, silky trails behind.
The plane she could hear now was much lower, and not far off. There wasn’t much to disturb the woods this far into the wilds. Occasional snowmobilers excepted. Mostly she was just enjoying the tranquility and cold of the place. Exactly what Ron had suggested, and exactly what she needed.
She liked being forced to be indoors, to paint a little, to stoke up the fire and sit at a window with a blanket around her shoulders and a cup of steaming cocoa, watching the snow drift down.
Today it was clear, with no snow forecast for days, and likewise, that was good too. After yesterday’s heavy fall, the air felt renewed and crisp, as if it had been run through a filter. She’d walked down to the stream, watching the icicles drip into the trickling water. Later she thought she might walk back up to the main lodge and have drinks with some of the others.
The plane sounded far too close now. Surely she would have been able to see it if it was going to pass overhead. It seemed to be heading right for her, but perhaps it was simply crossing one of the nearby valleys.
She was still getting used to the sound here. So different from Houston. Some days it would seem like she would hear nothing, until in the late afternoon a clump of snow would fall from a tree branch with a soft swish and the smallest of echoes. Or a flock of black birds would fly overhead, the soughing of their wings punctuated with occasional piping calls.
The plane burst over her. Its engine sound was like an express underground train sprinting by a station.
It was gone in a flash.
Alicia spun, seeing just the treetops beyond the stream shaking from the plane’s turbulent pass
Ron Wilder pushed the throttles up again, even though they were jammed right up against the plate. The Gulfstream was still losing power. He kept the yoke back between his knees, balancing the need for lift against the need for velocity. The engines were still pushing the plane along, but no matter what he did, the power just kept dropping.
The altitude alarm shrilled at them. “Whoop, whoop,” it went. “Pull up. Pull up.”
They were going to crash.
“I’ve got no oil here,” Mandy Joblin told him. She was his co-pilot, though he’d never flown with her before. Co-pilot was just a title. She was handling the emergency well.
The first sign of trouble had come at 32,000 feet, just as they crossed the Norwegian coast. A tell-tale flicker from the oil lights. Both rear-mounted engines were running dry. He’d throttled back immediately, let the plane slip into a glide path, sacrificing airspeed and altitude. He’d realized quickly he was going to have to land.
Easing the plane south, looking for somewhere to land, the situation got worse.
This far north in Norway there were few airports, but with their passenger, they couldn’t land at any commercial or military field. They had to stay off grid.
So he’d aimed for here. For the little tucked-away lodge deep in the woods.
The place he’d told Alicia about years ago.
Ron flew this route a lot–that was why they’d picked him–and he’d seen the place from above. On some overflights, he’d dropped low to check it out.
A big lodge, with numerous cottages or cabins spread around, a lake and streams, and paths through the woods.
Perfect place for a honeymoon.
And now, a perfect place to make an emergency landing.
Except that as the plane’s glide path dropped lower and lower, the engines had seized even more. He’d been forced to push them up to their limits, knowing that at any moment they might lock up completely and the aircraft would nose down into the trees.
“Whoop, whoop,” the console still screamed. “Pull up, pull up.”
As the plane swooped across, just above the treetops, Ron had a glimpse of the lodge. Then it was gone. He’d given up on making the strip. He was going to have to put down on the ice.
He prayed the spring thaw hadn’t started too early.
Sheriff Jonas Gessen pulled the Volkswagen 4WD up outside the small Rognsted police station. He shared the space with two officers through the winter. Colby and Erik were both hard-working cops, with great community skills. Policing this far away from the main cities mostly involved helping out with little bits of farm work, making sure that everyone’s electricity stayed connected through the winter and having cups of tea with the old folks.
Jonas didn’t feel young himself anymore. He was forty-two. His wife was long gone, living with some Swede in Stockholm. His daughters, Ellie and Kris, nineteen and twenty, had moved to a little flat in Trondheim, a hundred kilometers away, and were both planning to move to Oslo in the summer.
It made him feel lonely.
In some ways it made him want to move to Oslo too. He could earn more, be around the girls when they left, and have more challenges.
Stepping from his car, he crunched over the icy lot up to the police station. It was a simple prefab that had been trucked in a few years back, replacing the old three-room brick building that had felt like it had been constructed in the middle-ages. The new prefab was surprisingly spacious and surprisingly warm. The diesel furnace put out a lot of heat and, even in his own lifetime, insulation had improved a lot. He never felt like he was working in a prefab.
“Hey boss,” Colby said as Jonas came in. Colby had jet black hair, and so did his three children–Alice, three, Blair, six and Ingi, eight–even though his wife Birgi was a stereotypically blonde Norwegian. “You hear that plane?”
“Plane?” Jonas said.
“A couple of minutes ago. Came in very low, engines screaming. You could have heard it from Trondheim.”
“Oslo,” Erik called from the back office. “Military doing maneuvers. We need to cite them. They should know this is a populated area.”
“Barely,” Jonas said. “Barely populated.” Erik was single, and a little bit of a player, but he still had a lot of empathy for families. He might sleep with just about anyone, but he was very careful not to hit on married women. If they had a boyfriend, or even a fiancé then they were fair game, but if he saw a ring, he would just smile and nod. There were quite a few young families scattered through the woods and Erik looked out for them. Especially if he’d known the wife from before she was married.
Colby stood up from his desk and handed Jonas a folder. Yesterday’s reports. They had pulled a tourist couple’s car from a ditch and it had to be written up too. “It wasn’t military,” Colby said. “A business jet. I was just pulling up outside when it came over. One of those little passenger jets. It was gone so fast I barely saw it. It was heading over the Helsoe Lodge.”
Jonas nodded. There was an airfield out that way.
“Maybe I should drive over and check it out?” Colby said.
Jonas smiled. Any excuse to drive anywhere. Theirs was a scattered jurisdiction so there was a bit of driving anyway.
“I think it was in trouble,” Colby said.
“Surely we would have heard something,” Jonas said.
From the communications table the radio squawked.