Tuesday, 7 July 2009

What Makes A Great Airport Thriller....

The Curzon Group is preparing to embark on what The Bookseller described as the first ever airport tour by a group of authors.

The logic behind it, as I explained to The Bookseller, is pretty obvious. We write what are usually called ‘airport thrillers’. So what better place to sell them than an airport?

But that also set me thinking? What exactly is an ‘airport thriller’?

It’s partly the market. It means a book aimed at people who do a lot of their reading on the beach, or else on business trips. They probably aren’t heavy or devoted readers. They don’t spend hours and hours browsing in a big Waterstone’s. They pick up a couple of books at the airport before they leave the country.

But it is also, and probably more importantly for a writer, a style of book.

To me, a classic airport thriller has to be engrossing enough to make time melt away.
Most of don’t enjoy flying that much – and, as it happens, I really don’t like it at all. It’s dull, and often stressful. So you need something to take that will totally draw you in, getting you involved enough in the story that you’ve collected your bags from the carousel before you realise it.

That means the plot has to be brutal in its grip, and the writing fast enough to leave your breathless.

There is also, I suspect, something exotic and escapist about a great airport thriller.

Air travel doesn’t have much glamour left to it. The idea of the ‘jet set’ has been killed off by Ryanair and Easyjet. But an airport thriller is still a book we read when we’re travelling on business or on holiday, and that is a fun, exciting thing to be doing. We want the book we’re reading to have a bit of glamour as well: some exotic locations, some sex, some wit and panache. It needs to have something of the flavour of a good holiday itself: exciting, memorable, escapist, and most of all great fun.

I wonder what are the ten best airport thrillers of all time?

Funnily enough, I’m about to head off to Portugal for two weeks on holiday (and no doubt collecting a couple of airport thrillers at Gatwick on the way).

I’ll try and put together a list of my top ten for the next post? But any suggestions?

- Matt Lynn


  1. Recently I went to Los Angeles for a two week holiday. Prior to my holiday, I had been given a proof copy of the crime title "Cut Short" by Leigh Russell. I was absorbed by the brilliant storytelling, and as I emailed to Leigh, I found it to be a fantastic read. Two hours by the pool turned to six, and I soon found that I had finished the book, and what a great story it was.

  2. In view of recent unjust criticism levelled at the Curzon Group for self-promotion, I'd like to make it clear that the anonymous comment above had nothing to do with me! It was written by an events supervisor at Borders. It seems her computer would not let her add her name. I've had similar problems myself, on other blogs. I've never met this events supervisor. Our first contact was when she emailed me after reading Cut Short. As a result, we've arranged a book signing this Saturday, 11th July, at Borders in Cambridge.

  3. I love getting the books at the airport, especially those not on general release yet.

    Totally agree about Cut Short. For me, the short, concise chapters make it an ideal read for a train journey with many changes!
    An absolutely cracking read too.