The Conspirators by GW Shaw

Jacob Meaney’s girlfriend has given him an ultimatum – find £20,000 towards the deposit on a flat or their relationship is over. He is a translator with a gift for languages, and this is what brings the mysterious Eloise into his life. She makes him an offer that would help solve his money problems, but just what would he be getting himself into – if something sounds too good to be true, then it probably is. Transported by private jet and helicopter to a remote luxury villa in Austria, Jacob soon realises all is not what it first appears. The villa belongs to Myroslav Bondarenko, head of a Russian organised crime gang engaged in selling illegal drugs on the internet, and Jacob is now cut off from the outside world as they have taken his passport and mobile phone. Due to the unusual combination of languages he speaks, they want him to help communicate with new suppliers in India.

Unusually for a story like this, Jacob is just an average man trying to escape from a dangerous situation. He does not have a military background or special training, but must rely on his wits and intelligence. He is completely out of his element and does not know who to trust, but his language skills give him an edge. This standalone thriller, from the author of the DI Alex Cupidi detective series, is in no way predictable, as just when you think you know what is going on, everything is turned on its head. The characters are believable, the plot is complicated and requires you to suspend disbelief in certain places. There is a lot of double-crossing and violence, but this is mitigated by humour and great descriptions of the Austrian landscape. I am a fan of William Shaw’s writing, and really enjoyed this unusual contemporary thriller where intelligence wins over violence every time. Great ending that ties up all the loose ends. Thanks to Quercus and NetGalley for a digital copy to review.