Lead Review

  • Book: Damnation
  • Location: Switzerland
  • Author: Peter Beck

Review Author: tripfiction



Damnation is a brilliant thriller, everything a page turner should be… It is firmly set in Switzerland with side excursions to Egypt, Norway, and New England. Tom Winter is head of security at a discrete Swiss private bank. He is embarking on a non-work relationship with Anne, his assistant. She is, though, killed in a helicopter crash in the Swiss Alps along with the pilot and major Saudi investor, Muhammed Al-Bader. Al-Bader is related to the Saudi Royal family and a very important client for the bank. Tom should have met him at Zurich Airport for the helicopter transfer, but sent Anne in his place. He is overcome by both guilt and grief. Both emotions are accentuated when it turns out that the helicopter crash is far from accidental…

Tom sets out to find the truth behind the crash – both for his personal satisfaction, and to protect the bank he works for. He flies to Egypt to meet Kaddour, the head of Orafin – a company raising money to build a nuclear power plant in Egypt… a project in which Al-Bader intended to invest. Kaddour is blown up, and Winter teams up with Fatima Hakim, Kaddour’s assistant, to investigate – and to see if the helicopter ‘accident’ is connected to Kaddour’s death. He is thrown together with Fatima. They head for an under the radar investment conference in Norway, and on to New England where they meet with Professor Farmer, the chief executive of Pyramid Investment Partners – a partnership seeking Arab money to invest in global infrastructure projects. Al-Bader had apparently being working with him as well as the bank.

Tom and Fatima return to Switzerland where most of the action in Damnation happens. The bank’s annual conference is taking place in Interlaken and up on the Jungfraujoch. The bank’s CEO, Von Tobler, is in fine form entertaining both senior staff and important clients. Winter has already been ‘warned off’ his investigations by being thrown into a gorge by a mystery assailant – only to be saved by a bungie rope, by being shot at on a golf course, and by being shot at again when traversing the Trift Glacier suspension bridge with Fatima – but it is around the conference that Damnation moves to its frightening finale. Murders most foul, betrayals most devastating. And bravery quite exceptional. Swiss banking, as we know it, can carry on…

I read Damnation when I was recently in Switzerland, a country I know well. And the book represents quite perfectly the raison d’être of TripFiction. An extremely good read with a very firm sense of location. Apart from Interlaken and the Bernese Oberland, Bern and Zurich are strong characters, as is a beautiful restaurant high above Lake Geneva. You can absolutely sense the country you are in. For me, the events that took place on the Trift Glacier suspension bridge were particularly evocative. I do not have a head for heights and my legs turned to jelly just reading Beck’s text… I have seen the bridge from afar, and that is quite close enough for me!

Damnation is certainly up there with the best thrillers I have read. And luckily it is the first of a trilogy – I really look forward to the next in the series…

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